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The tale of the mouse that soared
Updated: 2004-11-16 08:56

A passenger jet owned by China Eastern Airlines has been held out of service for five days while crew members searched for a most unlikely stowaway.

The culprit: a small mouse that may have boarded the plane in Shanghai.

The high-flying rodent was finally trapped over the weekend, but the plane remained grounded for inspections.

It all began last Wednesday night, when a China Eastern Airbus A300 touched down in Singapore after a flight from Shanghai. As passengers were getting off the plane, a mouse darted into the passenger compartment.

Crewmen failed to catch the stowaway in Singapore and became concerned that it might chew through electrical wiring and pose a safety hazard. So instead of flying back to Shanghai with a full load of passengers, the plane returned to Pudong on Thursday with only the mouse aboard.

With the aircraft out of action, China Eastern canceled its regular Thursday run to Singapore and transferred passengers to other flights.

That evening, crewmen laid 36 traps and more than 20 cages. The next morning, they were all empty. So on Friday night, workers increased their capture arsenal and added some "mousepaper" - sheets of sticky-surface material - to the mix.

On saturday morning, the intruder was finally trapped. By then, the 10-gram rodent had held a multi-ton airplane hostage for almost three days. But the delay was not over yet.

"After another two days' search, we are convinced there are no 'accomplices' left on the plane," said Deng Yaohua, an official with the Shanghai Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau.

The bureau has quarantined the mouse and was sanitizing the plane yesterday. If inspections rule out damage, the aircraft could return to service today.

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