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Southwest jet safely returns to North Carolina airport after bird strike

A Southwest Airlines spokeswoman says a jet carrying 124 people struck a bird shortly after departing for Chicago from a North Carolina airport but safely returned without injuries.

Southwest's Whitney Eichinger told The Associated Press that its Boeing 737 reported the bird strike shortly after departure from Raleigh-Durham International Airport about 6 p.m. Monday and immediately returned.

She says the plane, with a five-person crew, shut down the affected engine before Flight 220 landed safely back at Raleigh-Durham and taxied to the gate.

"We re-accommodated all of the passengers onto other aircraft to Chicago," Eichinger said by phone from Dallas, the Texas headquarters of Southwest.

She says the jetliner, which was destined for Chicago Midway International, has since been taken out of service for inspection and any necessary repairs.

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