India's SpiceJet plane hits stray buffalo during take-off

NEW DELHI (REUTERS/AFP) - An Indian airliner crashed into a stray buffalo during take-off from the western city of Surat although no passengers or crew were hurt, the plane's operator, SpiceJet Ltd, said on Friday.

The airline was forced to ground the Boeing 737 which suffered "substantial damages", it said.

SpiceJet said the buffalo, which was killed in the accident on Thursday evening, was "essentially invisible" against a dark background.

Passengers on the Delhi-bound aircraft were transferred on to another plane, SpiceJet said.

"Stray animals are a growing menace in some airports,"SpiceJet said in a statement. "This incident has affected our regular operations and hence SpiceJet flights from Surat will now be suspended after this incident."

The airline suspended flights from the rural airport after the incident.

None of the 140 passengers and crew on the Spicejet flight was injured in the accident, which occurred just before takeoff.

But the budget airline suspended all flights from Surat airport in the western Indian state of Gujarat, saying stray animals were a "growing menace" at some airports in India.

The buffalo was "essentially invisible against a dark background," the airline said in a statement, adding it was investigating the accident.

Poorly maintained fences at some Indian airports mean animals can stray onto runways.

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