Garuda says legless lizards, not snakes, escaped from cargo compartment during flight

Garuda Indonesia said three legless lizards - not snakes - escaped from the cargo compartment on a flight from Merauke to Jakarta.
Garuda Indonesia said three legless lizards - not snakes - escaped from the cargo compartment on a flight from Merauke to Jakarta. PHOTO: AFP

JAKARTA (THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Garuda Indonesia said three legless lizards escaped from the cargo compartment on a flight from Merauke to Jakarta.

The national carrier denied there were snakes on board one of its flight, saying they were instead indigenous legless lizards that managed to escape from the cargo compartment during a flight from Merauke, Papua to Jakarta on Tuesday (Oct 11).

"The animal physically looks like a snake, but after an examination and checking of the documents, they are lizards and not snakes," vice-president of Corporate Communications Benny S. Butarbutar said in a statement on Wednesday .

The lizard was of the Lialis burtoni species, commonly called legless lizards, he said.

The airline acknowledged that its plane was carrying a cargo of live animals in a wooden box that had air holes and was covered in a sack.

The cabin crew caught the lizards and secured them immediately. No flight disruptions were caused by the incident, Mr Butarbutar said.

Still, Garuda initiated an investigation into the incident.

"Whoever is proven to be negligent over the standard operating procedures in the packaging will face firm sanctions," he added.

The preliminary investigation suggested that the delivery box was not in accordance with regulations governing the transportation of live animals, since the confining wire mesh inside should have had smaller holes, he said.

Officials possibly failed to conduct multiple checks on the cargo loaded onto the flight, he added.