A Cyprus Airways (CY) flight to Athens was forced to abort and return to Larnaca airport yesterday morning after its right engine was struck by lightning.

The Airbus A319, carrying 118 passengers and seven crew, took off from Larnaca at 9.30am and was struck by lightening over Paphos. As a precaution, the captain decided to turn the plane around and head back to Larnaca.

There, the emergency services had fire engines, police and ambulances at the ready, but the plane landed at 10.15am without incident.

"The aircraft returned for precautionary reasons, to undergo checks," CY general manager Christos Kyriakides told reporters. "The captain acted correctly in returning to Larnaca."

There, CY engineers and technicians worked on the plane while passengers were transferred by bus to the departure lounge to await another plan for Athens.

All except two of the passengers were flown out at 12.30pm and the remaining two left on the afternoon flight.

The passengers who spoke to reporters said there had been no panic on the plane and that the captain had explained that the engine had been struck by lightning and that they were returning to Larnaca as a precaution.

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