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 airports 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 todays close shave, there might be second thoughts.