Unknown animal breaks free at TIA; authorities confused whether it’s a cat or a leopardThe Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) has aborted the mission to search an “unknown animal” spotted inside the airport’s runway area after an intense 20-minute hunt early in the Monday morning.
The Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) has aborted the mission to search an “unknown animal” spotted inside the airport’s runway area after an intense 20-minute hunt early in the Monday morning.
The airport authority said the search will resume at the midnight on Monday when the animal’s eyes are expected to glow golden or green.
“It's not yet known if the trespasser was a cat or a leopard,” said Prem Nath Thakur, spokesperson of the TIA. “We will begin the search operation after the airport is shut down at 12am,” Thakur said, adding, “They have a better chance of finding the animal when it is exposed to the light in the darkness.”
The animal was seen on the runway on Monday morning, forcing TIA to briefly close the airport. Immediately, police and officials of the Central Zoo were mobilised to search for the unknown animal.
The abrupt closure of the airport caused a brief chaos among passengers, particularly foreign trekkers and Everest aspirants travelling to Lukla—the gateway to Mt Everest.
Sources said flight operations were suspended for 30 minutes for safety reasons. The airport was opened after an all-clear signal was extended by the air traffic controller. Thakur said that no flight was cancelled, but few suffered delays.
He said that airport staffers immediately alerted the runway ground staff at 7am after the unknown animal was spotted. They rushed to the spot to drive it away. The team, however, could not spot the animal that had fled the scene by then.
Airport police said the animal may be hiding somewhere in the drainage. This is not the first time an animal had entered the runway of country's sole international airport. Last month, a leopard was spotted on a tree at Gothathar, which is located in the vicinity of the airport’s runway. The animal had fled on its own after darkness fell.
TIA officials assume the animal seen on the runway on Monday could be the same leopard.