, September 28, 2005
 (STAR) By Rainier Allan Ronda - Did that mouse have a boarding pass?

A Qatar Airways flight was delayed for 12 hours after a mouse was found inside the plane minutes before takeoff.

Airport authorities, however, were still unsure about whether the mouse on Qatar Airways flight QR 645 last Sunday came from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

As an aftermath, the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) has ordered heightened cleanliness measures and an inspection of their pesticide use following the inconvenience caused by the mysterious rodent.

Engineer Octavio "Bing" Lina, MIAA assistant general manager for operations, said he had ordered a thorough cleanup of the terminal and a second spraying of pesticides to prevent a similar occurrence in the future.

"Actually, hindi nga ma-trace kung saan nag-originate yung daga eh. Sa tingin namin, hindi yun nag-originate sa terminal," Lina told the STAR, suggesting that the mouse might have been a stowaway from Doha, and not Manila. "Sa loob na nakita ng stewardess yung daga. Kaya sa tingi namin, malamang hindi nag-originate yun sa terminal natin. Baka sa cargo hold nila, or sa catering, sa catering truck nila, or baka rin sa Doha pa."

Lina said that the plane came from Doha, and was about to make the return flight to the Qatar capital when the mouse was sighted.

"However, I have already ordered the janitors to intensify cleanliness measures and also our pest control contractor to check if their pesticide sprays are effective," Lina stressed.

QR flight 645 was several minutes away from takeoff at 6:30 a.m. Sunday from the NAIA Terminal I runway carrying 242 passengers when a flight attendant found the mouse inside the plane, forcing its pilots to defer takeoff.

Passengers were then asked to get off the plane and the cargo was unloaded to allow a thorough search of the cabin, including fumigation of the interior by MIAA pest control personnel.

During the mouse hunt, Qatar Airways provided accommodations for their stranded passengers at a Makati hotel.

The search was called off after more than 10 hours when efforts to locate the mouse proved futile.

Qatar Airways pilots decided to go on with the flight and the plane took off for Doha at 7:30 p.m. Sunday.

Lina said airline pilots usually call off a flight when they see pests because rodents can cause damage to an aircraft’s electrical or mechanical wiring.

"Delikado kasi yung mga ganyan. Lalo na ’yung mga hayop na may ngipin na puwedeng ngumatngat ng mga wiring," Lina explained.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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