KATHMANDU, April 3 (Xinhua) -- Nepal's only international airport, Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) in the capital Kathmandu, remained tensed on Monday after an entry of an unknown animal in the runway area.
The airport was closed for 30 minutes on Monday morning after an animal similar to leopard was spotted in the runway. An intense search operation was launched to find out the whereabouts of the disturbing animal, but yielded no results yet.
According to airport authorities, regular flights were resumed after various measures failed to find the hidden animal.
"The animal has been hiding inside drain in the side of runway but we are not sure whether its leopard or wild cat," Prem Nath Thakur, spokesperson of TIA told Xinhua.
"Considering the excessive flight pressure and possible disturbance to the passengers, we have decided to resume the search operation only from midnight," said the spokesperson.
No flights were cancelled due to the search mission, except for few minutes' delay.
A team of Nepal Army, Nepal Police, Armed Police Force, hunters of TIA, forest officials, representatives of Central Zoo, among others, were involved in the search operation. They have closed both ends of the drain to trace the animal.
"The fire fighters even used water cannons inside the drain to exert pressure on the animal but it did not come out," Thakur said.
According to officials, the search mission will start immediately after the single-runway of the airport is closed at 12:00 midnight.
This is not the first time that a wildlife disturbance occurred in the country's sole international airport, which is close to the forested hills.
There have been reports on the disturbance from stray cattle along with birds time and again, posing serious threats to air safety.
It has been reported that the number of hunters in TIA is not sufficient to control wildlife activities. According to TIA, 28 airlines operated 27,118 flights in the Nepali skies in 2016, approximately 75 landings and take-offs per day.