An airline spokesperson said the plane's left engine was "severely damaged" and it had to be grounded after the incident, adding all passengers and crew were safe.
    
The incident occurred when the Boeing 737-800 aircraft, operating flight SG-622 to Delhi, had started rolling for take off when its left engine hit the buffalo and the plane came to a halt.
    
Announcing the immediate suspension of all SpiceJet operations to Surat indefinitely, the spokesperson said, "A stray buffalo hit one of our aircraft, carrying 140 passengers and six crew... The buffalo was essentially invisible against a dark background."
    
Maintaining that all passengers and crew were safe, he said an alternate aircraft was arranged to fly the passengers to Delhi, which left at 2255 hours last night.
    
As aviation regulator DGCA launched a probe and rushed its officials from Mumbai to Surat, Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju today met top officials in Delhi and directed the Airports Authority of India (AAI) to take urgent steps to check stray animal on runways of all airports, particularly those in non-metro cities.
    
Raju also asked AAI also to launch an inquiry and ensure that incidents like this should not recur at any other airport, an official spokesperson said after the minister's meeting attended among others by Civil Aviation Secretary V Somasundaran and AAI Chairman S Raheja.
    
Raju asked AAI to send teams to such vulnerable airports within a month and take remedial measures in three months.
    
"The plane was running at a high speed and moments before take-off, there was noise from below. We thought it could be because of some damage on the road ... Instead of the flight taking off, the plane stopped right there," passenger Prabhakar Joshi told reporters.
    
Noting that stray animals were "a growing menace" in some airports, the SpiceJet spokesperson said the incident has "affected our regular operations and hence SpiceJet flights from Surat will now be suspended indefinitely. Suspension will be effective immediately".

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