Terrified Passengers Evacuated After Bear Escapes From Crate In Aircraft’s Cargo Hold

Image of an Iraqi Airways jet.

Image of an Iraqi Airways jet. Credit: Perry Hoppe/Wikimedia Commons GNU Free Documentation License 1.2

A bear caused chaos on a passenger plane when it escaped from its cage in the cargo hold moments before takeoff.

The incident occurred last August 4 on board an Iraqi Airways flight 123 that was waiting to take off from Baghdad International Airport, destined for Dubai International Airport.

Despite efforts made by crew members to contain the animal, the situation remained tense until the relevant authorities arrived on the scene, who were able finally to subdue it without anyone being harmed.

Chaos reportedly ensued once the passengers heard screams and saw people running for their lives. Everybody was subsequently evacuated from the 737 jet to safety, according to dailymail.co.uk.

The plane arrived from Baghdad in Iraq

Flight 123 arrived in Dubai and was being prepared for its return trip to Baghdad when the crew discovered that a bear had escaped from its shipping crate in the main cargo hold. A delay of around three hours and thirty minutes followed while animal control specialists took care of the situation.

In response to the recent controversy, Mohammed Shayya’ Sabbar al Sudani, the Iraqi Prime Minister, demanded a probe into what happened. It remains unclear who will be held accountable for the incident.

Audio of the captain issuing an apology for the inconvenience caused by this unexpected turn of events was posted on social media.

Another video circulating Twitter courtesy of ‘Breaking Aviation News & Videos’, showed the bear wandering around freely inside the cargo hold. Despite the obvious alarm, at one point the man is seen actually stroking the powerful beast on its head.

Iraqi Airways denied responsibility for the incident

The airline asserted in a statement that the transportation of the bear was conducted in compliance with both legal requirements and established procedures endorsed by IATA.

‘The administration of the company apologises to the travellers of the flight from Baghdad International Airport to Dubai Airport… for reasons beyond the control of the company, regarding a shipment (a bear) in the cargo hold’, Iraqi Airways stated.

It continued: ‘Upon arrival at Dubai Airport, the animal escaped the crate specified for its shipment. The plane’s crew coordinated with UAE’s authorities who sent a specialised team to sedate the animal and take it off the plane’.

The flight took off three and a half hours late

After ensuring that the plane remained undamaged from this incident, it was deemed safe for takeoff and returned to Baghdad. The reasons behind transporting the animal on board remain unknown, as does its owner.

In Iraq, the wealthy have developed a fascination with keeping wild animals as pets despite the authorities’ ongoing efforts to enforce legal measures that protect them.

Baghdads police have even had to appeal to citizens for assistance in preventing dangerous animals from roaming freely on the city’s streets.

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Written by

Chris King

Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at editorial@euroweeklynews.com