A superstitious Chinese air passenger threw coins into a plane engine for good luck.
The 80-year-old woman threw nine coins as she was boarding a flight from Shanghai to Guangzhou on Tuesday, causing the entire plane to be evacuated.
Police in Shanghai suggested that the woman, a Buddhist, threw the coins as a prayer to keep the plane safe. According to the South China Morning Post, they were worth a total of 1.7 yuan – about 19p, or 20 US cents.
The flight – China Southern Airlines service CZ380 – was held back for several hours at Shanghai Pudong International Airport while the engine was inspected.
Officials say that eight of the coins missed their mark, but that one embedded itself inside the mechanism and needed to be retrieved.
A concerned passenger reported her to airport authorities, who removed around 150 passengers from the flight while safety checks were carried out.
A statement posted on the Weibo social network by China Southern Airlines said: “A senior passenger threw coins to the plane’s engine and delayed the flight. The passenger involved has been taken away by police. In order to make sure the flight is safe, China Southern maintenance has conducted a full exam of the plane’s engine.”
A police statement said: “After investigation, the involved passenger surnamed Qiu said she threw the coins to pray for safety. According to Qiu’s neighbour, Qiu believes in Buddhism. The plane is boarding again for takeoff.”
The South China Morning Post reported that the woman was not going to be charged.