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United flight makes emergency landing in Tampa after bird strike

(Reuters) - A United Airlines flight made an emergency landing on Wednesday after the aircraft struck a bird shortly after take-off but there were no injuries, according to an airline official.

United Flight 164 left Tampa International Airport for Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport around 7:40 a.m. ET (12340 GMT) and returned after what was later determined to be a bird strike, company spokesman Charlie Hobart said.

The plane landed safely and no injuries were reported.

It was far less dramatic than the 2009 bird strike, in which Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger guided Seattle-bound U.S. Airways Flight to an emergency water landing on the Hudson River in New York City. That plane's two engines lost thrust when it struck a flock of Canada geese following takeoff from New York's LaGuardia Airport.

Bird strikes are common during commercial flights but rarely result in catastrophe.

In Wednesday's case, ground cruisers will conduct a full inspection of the aircraft to see whether the same plane can be used to accommodate the inconvenienced passengers, Hobart said.

"The inspection will determine that," Hobart said. "Safety as always is our top priority."

(Reporting by Gina Cherelus; Editing by Alistair Bell)

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