Emirates Flight Hits Flamingos, Bird Remains Scattered Across Mumbai Suburb

The plane, a Boeing 777, has also been damaged.

Emirates Flight Hits Flamingos, Bird Remains Scattered Across Mumbai Suburb

The carcasses were found in Ghatkopar.

New Delhi:

A Dubai-Mumbai flight flew into a flock of flamingos just before landing on Monday, leading to the death of at least 30 birds and causing damage to the plane. The remains of the flamingos rained down on suburban Ghatkopar, where the collapse of a billboard had killed 16 people last week. 

The Emirates plane - a Boeing 777 - which was carrying over 220 passengers, landed safely at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport in Mumbai around 9.15 pm on Monday and the return flight was cancelled. A replacement plane is being arranged, which is scheduled to take off at 9 pm on Tuesday, the airline said. 

"Emirates can confirm that EK508 from Dubai to Mumbai on 20 May was involved in a bird strike incident upon landing. The aircraft landed safely and all passengers and crew disembarked without injury, however, sadly, a number of flamingos were lost and Emirates is cooperating with the authorities on the matter," a statement from the airline said. 

"The aircraft was also damaged in the incident... Emirates apologises for any inconvenience caused. The safety of our passengers and crew is of the utmost importance and will not be compromised," it added. 

Pawan Sharma, from the Resqink Association for Wildlife Welfare, said the wildlife group received multiple calls on Monday evening as the remains began falling from the sky. 

According to government data cited by news agency AFP, the Mumbai airport recorded over 600 cases of aircraft bird strikes between January 2018 and October 2023.

But Mr Sharma said this was the first time such a large number of flamingos have been hit. He told AFP he feared many more could have died as some of the bird carcasses were "not in a shape to be recovered".

After every monsoon, nearly a lakh Lesser (Phoeniconaias minor) and Greater Flamingos (Phoenicopterus roseus) migrate to Mumbai, turning the sky pink as they head to the wetlands and mudflats. They stay there for a few months before returning. 

"Both resident and migratory birds are at threat from flights passing through such crucial habitats Therefore it is important to evaluate this incident and work on mitigation measures, so that such unfortunate incidents can be avoided," Mr Sharma added.