Snake grounds jet with 370 passengers in Sydney

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) - A tiny exotic snake was found on a Qantas Boeing 747 airliner, leading to 370 passengers being grounded in Sydney overnight, the airline said Monday.

Staff found the 20-centimeter (8-inch) Mandarin Rat Snake in the passenger cabin near the door late Sunday before passengers were due to board the flight bound for Tokyo from Sydney International Airport, Qantas said in a statement.

Australia's flagship airline said passengers were given hotel rooms overnight and left Sydney on a replacement plane Monday morning. Qantas said the original jet would be fumigated before returning to service in case there were other snakes on board.

The snake was taken by quarantine officials for analysis.

The Agriculture Department said the snake, a species that grows to an average 1.2 meters (4 feet), had been euthanized, "as exotic reptiles of this kind can harbor pests and diseases not present in Australia."

The department said the snake had arrived aboard the jet in a flight a day earlier from Singapore.

"The Department of Agriculture is looking into how the snake came to be on the plane, but isn't able to speculate at this time," it said in a statement.

The mildly venomous Asian snake was about the width of a pencil and did not pose a threat to humans, but it had the potential to cause ecological havoc in the Australian environment if it had escaped the plane with a mate, Canberra Reptile Zoo herpetologist Peter Child said.

While snakes rarely pose aviation hazards, a 3-meter (10-foot) python in January clung to the wing of a Qantas flight from the northeast coast city of Cairns to Papua New Guinea. The python died during the flight but was still attached to the wing when the two-hour flight ended in the national capital Port Moresby.


(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Top Stories

  • Moving Sawant
    A fundraiser is born to move Councilmember Kshama Sawant to a Socialist country

  • Uber Upset
    Jason Rantz pokes holes in driver's discrimination claim against Uber
ATTENTION COMMENTERS: We've changed our comments, but want to keep you in the conversation.
Please login below with your Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Disqus account. Existing MyNorthwest account holders will need to create a new Disqus account or use one of the social logins provided below. Thank you.
comments powered by Disqus
Sign up for breaking news e-mail alerts from MyNorthwest.com
In the community
Do you know a student who stands out in the classroom, school and community?
Help make their dreams come true by nominating them for a $1,000 scholarship and a chance to earn a $10,000 Grand Prize. Brought to you by KIRO Radio and Comprehensive Wealth Management.

Do you know an exceptional citizen who has impacted and inspired others?
KIRO Radio and WSECU would like to recognize six oustanding citizens this year. Nominate them to be recognized and to receive a $2,000 charitable grant.