Sumatran airport closed after aid plane hits cows

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The main airport at Banda Aceh on Indonesia's battered Sumatra island was closed for several hours today after a relief plane hit a cow, collapsing its left undercarriage.

The main airport at Banda Aceh on Indonesia's battered Sumatra island was closed for several hours today after a relief plane hit a cow, collapsing its left undercarriage.

The accident hampered the world's efforts to get aid to survivors of the earthquake-powered tsunami that devastated the region and left nearly 150,000 dead.

Rushing aid to anyone still alive has proved a nightmare, with roads and sea jetties washed away. Access by air was the only way in. But with the closure of the small airport in Banda Aceh, the main city on the island's northern tip, it was left to helicopters, mainly based on navy vessels anchored offshore, to drop food parcels.

The airport, which used to handle about three flights a day, has been swamped with round-the-clock traffic, with dozens of aircraft hauling in water, biscuits and medicine.

It remained closed until authorities got heavy equipment to move the Boeing 737 cargo plane that hit the cow after landing. No one was hurt in the accident, which will not affect helicopter flights.

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