New Delhi: The Goa airport was briefly closed on Saturday afternoon and several flights to the coastal state were diverted following an incident of fire caused by a drop tank of a naval fighter aircraft, a Navy official said.
The external fuel tank of the MiG 29K aircraft got jettisoned inadvertently on the runway while the plane was taking off for an operational mission from the Dabolim airfield around 1pm, Navy Spokesperson Captain D K Sharma said.
The minor fire was caused due to fuel spillage, prompting authorities to suspend flight operations at the airport, he said.
Civilian flight services resumed at 2:30pm, Capt Sharma added.
He said emergency services were immediately pressed in to quickly re-operationalise the runway.
The Goa airport is used for both civilian and military aircraft.
Sharma said following the incident, a few commercial flights were diverted and some departures were slightly delayed.
A senior PTI journalist, who was onboard a Delhi-Goa Indigo plane, said when the aircraft was about to land in Goa, it was diverted to Mangalore, around 350 km away.
"The plane was full of holidaymakers and families. When we were hovering over Goa, the pilot informed that it was being diverted to Mangalore due to debris (on or around the runway)," she said.
The scribe said after the plane was diverted, passengers were worried if they would have to drive back to Goa or stay the night in Mangalore.
However, after halting at the Mangalore airport for about an hour, the plane was cleared to fly back to Goa. The announcement was met with loud cheers by the passengers, she said.
"The pilot said that at least seven to eight Indigo flights had to be diverted, some of them to Mumbai," she said after landing in Goa.