An 80-year-old Buddhist woman forced the evacuation of 150 passengers on a Shanghai flight when she threw a handful of coins into the engine of the plane as she “prayed for safety.”
Throwing coins for good luck is common in Buddhism, but it is mostly directed at temples, statues, ponds, and wells. This time, one of the coins (worth 1.7 yuan… or 25 cents in the U.S.) hit the engine and caused the flight to be delayed for several hours.
The woman, only identified as Qiu, was taken away for questioning by police.
“After an investigation the involved passenger, surnamed Qiu, said she threw the coins to pray for safety. According to Qiu’s neighbour, Qiu believes in Buddhism.”
You might be laughing at this point, but consider if throwing coins for good luck is really any different than other religious superstitions that are more commonplace. I have a friend who says a full prayer every single time she gets behind the wheel of her car and kisses her religious artifacts and trinkets before starting the engine. Granted, she doesn’t throw things into the car’s engine, but other than that, her rituals have the same effect.
At least Qiu’s superstitious act of monetary sabotage was discovered early on, rather than after the plane took off. This incident cost the airline some money, and more than a hundred passengers a few hours of their time, but it could have been much worse.
The coins in the engine could cause failure, according to a report in the South China Morning Post.
The captain was quoted as saying the metal, if sucked up by the engine, could have caused serious damage, including failure.
China Southern Airlines told reporters that passengers were reminded to comply with civil aviation laws and regulations, which prohibit behaviour that could jeopardise the safety of the flight.
The airline inspected the plane and ultimately cleared it for flight, but there is no doubt this type of action could be deadly. I just hope everyone can keep their beliefs and rituals in a place where they can’t hurt others, such as temples or churches or at home.
This just goes to show that superstitious harm isn’t limited to alternative medicine, Christianity, and Islam. And contrary to what some critics say, it’s not harmless either. All unfounded beliefs have the ability to hurt others in certain situations. Thankfully, that didn’t happen here.
(Image via Shutterstock)