Dozens of flamingos dead after plane hits them in Mumbai


Thousands of flamingos migrate to Mumbai every year. Getty images

By Cherylann MollanMumbai, May 22: At least 39 flamingos have been killed after an aircraft hit them in the western Indian city of Mumbai, sparking concerns among environmentalists.

The Emirates flight, which had more than 300 passengers, made a safe landing on Monday night after the incident.

Officials say it is not clear yet whether the birds deviated from their normal route to come in the flight's path.

The incident has sparked anger, with environmentalists blaming excessive construction for the tragedy.

Representative image. Photo: Getty Images

Every year, thousands of flamingos migrate to Mumbai around November, making the city's wetlands their home for a few months.

Their brief stay is a much-anticipated event for locals, who gather in huge numbers to admire and photograph the pink visitors.

An Emirates spokesperson told local media that its flight from Dubai to Mumbai was "involved in a bird strike 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," the spokesperson said.

The flamingo deaths came to light late on Monday night after a group of children in Ghatkopar, a suburb in Mumbai, spotted carcasses on the road.

Residents then told wildlife officials that flamingo carcasses were spread over a 500m (0.5km) radius, the Indian Express newspaper said.

“Around 29 carcasses were found late Monday night, and another ten on Tuesday morning,” forest official Amol Bhagwat told the newspaper.

Visuals on TV showed volunteers and officials picking up bloodied carcasses from the ground.

People flock to Navi Mumbai to photograph flamingos. Getty Images

Environmentalists have told local media that the accident may have occurred as a result of the birds having to change their path while they were flying towards a nearby sanctuary

Stalin D, an environmentalist, blamed power cables installed in the area.

"It is likely the flamingos were trying to overpass these high power lines and got caught off guard and hit by the aeroplane,” he told the Indian Express newspaper.

The incident has renewed criticism around construction activities near Mumbai's coastal areas. Environmentalists have long raised concerns about an upcoming airport in Navi Mumbai - another area famed for flamingo sightings.

They fear the airport's presence and construction and traffic there could result in more flamingo deaths.

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