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Slow moving turtle delays five planes at Japan airport

·2 min read
<span>Photograph: Yuichi Yamazaki/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Yuichi Yamazaki/Getty Images

Turtles on a Runway probably will never rival Snakes on a Plane for dramatic effect, but one reptile has made headlines after an innocent amble along the tarmac at Japan’s second-busiest airport, delaying five planes.

The turtle, which weighs just over 2kg, was seen moving slowly along the tarmac at Narita international airport near Tokyo on Friday morning, prompting a pilot preparing for takeoff to contact air traffic control.

Staff removed the animal with a net and checked the 4,000-metre runway for other foreign objects, causing a 15-minute delay to five flights, according to the Mainichi Shimbun.

Related: Radioactive snakes help scientists monitor fallout from Fukushima nuclear disaster

They included an All-Nippon Airways Airbus A380 whose fuselage is decorated with light and dark blue images of sea turtles, an embellishment that debuted in July last year to celebrate the carrier’s service to Hawaii, where the animals are regarded as sacred.

While airport workers are occasionally called on to remove stray cats, racoon dogs and rabbits from the runway, turtle sightings are extremely rare, the Mainichi said. Narita officials believe the creature may have come from the airport’s retention pond, located about 100 metres from the runway, the newspaper added.

After ANA had to cancel its 14 weekly flights to Honolulu due to the coronavirus pandemic, the airline has been using its fleet of A380s on domestic routes. The plane in question was about to take off on a flight to the southern Japanese island of Okinawa when the turtle made its appearance.

The airline has shrugged off the disruption. “In Hawaii, sea turtles are seen as bringing good luck, and we hope this turtle that came to see the flight off signals a bright future,” it said in a statement.

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