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Snake on a plane forces emergency landing

By Jim Barnett, CNN
December 5, 2012 -- Updated 0954 GMT (1754 HKT)
An Egyptian cobra like this one escaped from a carry-on bag on an Egypt Air flight from Cairo to Kuwait.
An Egyptian cobra like this one escaped from a carry-on bag on an Egypt Air flight from Cairo to Kuwait.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A reptile shop owner smuggled an Egyptian cobra in his carry-on for an Egypt Air flight
  • The snake's escape forced an emergency landing, where it was removed
  • The snake bit its owner, but the man refused medical attention, saying bite was superficial

(CNN) -- Ninety passengers aboard an Egypt Air flight from Cairo to Kuwait could have used actor Samuel L. Jackson this week after a snake reportedly bit a Jordanian man who smuggled the reptile onboard.

Jackson's character in the movie "Snakes on a Plane" tries to figure out how to save the aircraft after crates of hyped-up serpents started killing the cast.

There wasn't quite that kind of drama on Monday, but the incident forced the pilot to make an emergency landing in the Egyptian resort town of Al Ghardaqa on the Red Sea, according to The Jordan Times.

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An Egypt Air official told the paper an investigation revealed that the 48-year-old passenger, who owns a reptile shop in Kuwait, had hidden the Egyptian cobra in a carry-on bag. The passenger was trying to control the snake after it bit his hand and started slithering under the seats.

The Egyptian daily al-Masry al-Youm reported that the man refused medical treatment, claiming his wound was only superficial. The plane resumed its flight to Kuwait after local authorities confiscated the snake.

Doctors told the passenger he should spend 24 hours in a hospital for observation, but the man refused, the Egyptian Air official said, according to The Jordan Times.

Egyptian cobras are commonly found across North Africa.

According to wildlife experts, the cobra's venom is so deadly it can kill a full-grown elephant in three hours or a person in about 15 minutes. The venom destroys nerve tissue and causes paralysis and death because of respiratory failure.

Legend has it that in ancient times, the Egyptian queen Cleopatra used an Egyptian cobra -- also known as an asp -- to commit suicide.

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