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Mauritius flight has close shave

New Delhi, July 24: The wheels of an Air Mauritius plane caught fire when the pilot slammed the emergency brakes seconds before take-off at Delhi airport today.

A full emergency was declared and fire tenders rushed to the runway. The blaze was put out in 15 minutes.

The 241 passengers and 11 crew members came out through a chute. “They were very lucky. As the pilot aborted just before take-off, the plane was in full thrust,” an airport official said.

Thirty passengers received minor injuries.

The official quoted the pilot as saying the take-off was aborted because of a bird hit. “The pilot has reported it was a bird hit but this has to be investigated.”

As a debate raged over whether the emergency drill saved the day, talk among officials veered to “divine intervention” by Pir Baba. A mazar of two Sufi saints is considered by many officials as the airport’s “guardian”. Prayers are offered there on Thursday.

“It is opened to the public for a few hours each Thursday,” an official said. The shrine was to be shifted but after today’s close shave, there might be second thoughts.

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