By Denford Magora
Five warthogs (wild pigs) grounded a Chinese-made Air Zimbabwe plane at Harare International Airport yesterday, after the plane collided with them as it taxed down the runway for take off. The plane, an MA60, was damaged at the at the front and two passengers were injured in the incident.
The Minister of Transport and Communications, Nicholas Goche, says the warthogs had likely escaped from Mbizi Game Park near the airport. The incident apparent happened soon after the plane carrying President Joseph Kabila had taken off from the same airport.
In a statement released yesterday, Goche said:
“An Air Zimbabwe MA60 aircraft impacted with warthogs during the take-off roll on November 3, 2009 at approximately 19:36. This resulted in a rejected take-off. The aircraft was on the take-off roll and was about to lift off the ground when it hit the five warthogs. The nose and left main landing gears collapsed after the impact. The aircraft veered off to the left side of the runway and stopped off the runway with damage on the engine propeller and on the wing tip.”
This is a rare occurrence at th main airport in Zimbabwe. Normally, wild animals are common on the runways of the smaller airports, such as Hwange, which is situated smack in the middle of a National Park (Hwange National Park) that is bigger than Belgium.
Workers at these smaller airports routinely have to inspect the runways and chase away anything from zebras to elephants before planes take off or land.
The Chinese-made MA60 is one of three bought a couple of years ago by Air Zimbabwe under Mugabe’s “Look East Policy”. The Chinese threw in another one for free.