Smuggled animals cause chaos on Bangkok-Taipei flight

Burmese star tortoises are among the wild animals found on a Thai Vietjet Air flight from Suvarnabhumi airport to Taipei on Wednesday. (Photo supplied)
Burmese star tortoises are among the wild animals found on a Thai Vietjet Air flight from Suvarnabhumi airport to Taipei on Wednesday. (Photo supplied)

A baggage-screening worker at Suvarnabhumi airport has been suspended for failing to search a bag that turned out to be filled with smuggled animals, some of which got loose and caused chaos on a Bangkok-Taipei flight.

Management of Suvarnabhumi airport said on Thursday that CCTV video showed the employee of AOT Aviation Security Co failed to open a bag that had been flagged as suspicious by a colleague monitoring an X-ray screening unit.

Two foreigners carried the bag past the X-ray unit at about 1.45pm on Wednesday. They boarded a Thai VietJet Air flight that departed at 3.32pm the same day.

According to witness reports, the chaos onboard the plane began shortly after takeoff when a passenger noticed a rat while walking to the toilet. Cabin staff then searched the plane and found an otter under a passenger’s seat.

Meanwhile, a male flight attendant was able to catch the rat — after being bitten on the finger — and place it in a box.

Cabin staff made an announcement asking anyone who had brought animals onto the plane to identify themselves. A woman said she was responsible, and a search turned up a black bag containing more animals under her seat.

Officials at Taoyuan International Airport in Taipei found the bag contained 20 Burmese star tortoises, a snake, two otters, a prairie dog and two black giant squirrels.

The suspect was reportedly being questioned by police in Taiwan and could be fined up to NT$1 million (1.15 million baht).

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  • board: to get onto a ship, aircraft, train, or bus - ขึ้น(เรือ  รถเมล์ รถไฟ เครื่องบิน)
  • chaos: a situation in which everything is confused and in a mess - ความยุ่งเหยิง, ความสับสน
  • colleague (noun): someone who works in the same organisation or department as you do or someone you know who has the same type of job - เพื่อนร่วมงาน
  • flag (verb): to draw attention to something; to put a special mark next to information that you think is important - ใส่เครื่องหมาย (บนหน้ากระดาษ, การ์ด) ที่เห็นว่าสำคัญ
  • responsible: deserving to be blamed for something that has happened - มีความรับผิดชอบ
  • smuggle: to take drugs, money, people, etc. to or from a place secretly and often illegally - ลักลอบนำเข้า
  • squirrel (n): a small animal with a bushy tail that lives in a tree and eats nuts กระรอก -
  • suspect: a person who is thought to have committed a crime - ผู้ต้องสงสัย
  • suspended (verb): not allowed to participate or to do a job for a period of time; not allowed to be used for a period of time - ถูกระงับ
  • suspicious: a feeling that someone or something cannot be trusted — - มีความสงสัย, ด้วยความสงสัย, สงสัย, พิรุธ
  • tortoise: a large turtle - เต่า
  • witness: a person who sees something happen - ผู้ที่เห็นเหตุการณ์
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