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Snake on a plane: Highly venomous cobra found under pilot’s seat

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A pilot in South Africa made an emergency landing after finding a highly venomous cobra hiding under his seat.

Rudolf Erasmus alerted his four passengers of the stowaway reptile after he felt “something cold” slide across his lower back.

Looking down he saw the head of a Cape cobra, also known as a yellow cobra, “receding back under the seat”.

Cape cobras are one of Africa’s most dangerous cobra species because of the potency of their venom.

One bite can kill someone in just 30 minutes.

“There was a moment of stunned silence,” Mr Erasmus said, adding that everyone managed to stay calm.

With the snake curled up by his feet, the pilots called air traffic control asking for permission to make an emergency landing in the town of Welkom, central South Africa, which was another 10 to 15 minutes away.

Emergency responders and a snake handler were on site to meet the plane and the “visibly shaken” passengers when it landed, but it was here when the tale took another turn.

In this photo provided by Brian Emmenis, people look inside a plane at the Welkom Airport, in Welkom, South Africa, as they search for a venomous snake
Image:
The search for the snake at Welkom Airport

Snake handler Johan de Klerk and a team of aviation engineers searched the plane for almost two days but still hadn’t found the cobra by Wednesday.

They were unsure if it had escaped unnoticed.

Due to the engineering company Mr Erasmus works for needing the plane back, he was forced to fly the 90-minute journey back with the possibility that the cobra was still onboard.

“I would say I was on high alert,” Mr Erasmus said, having worn a thick winter jacket, wrapped a blanket round his seat and had a fire extinguisher, insect repellent and golf club within arms reach.

Brian Emmenis, fire officer and snake handler Johan de Klerk looks inside a plane, in Welkom, South Africa, as he searches for a venomous snake
Image:
Snake handler Johan de Klerk

The plane has now been stripped, with still no sign of the deadly snake.

“I hope it finds somewhere to go,” Mr Erasmus said.

“Just not my aircraft.”

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