July 8, 2009 / 6:40 PM / 10 years ago

Turtles on runway delay NYC flights

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The speed of the world’s biggest jets was no match against the slow and steady pace of a group of turtles who delayed flights at New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport on Wednesday morning.

A runway that juts out into a bay was closed for 35 minutes while 78 diamondback terrapin turtles, each weighing 2-3 pounds (1-2 kilograms), were removed, said a spokesman for airport operator The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

“They came up out of the water,” the spokesman said. “It happens, but it doesn’t happen a lot.”

The closure caused delays of 1-1/2 hours at the airport, which caters to about 48 million passengers a year. The turtles were taken away and released back into the wild — away from the airport.

Reporting by Michelle Nichols, editing by Jackie Frank

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