TWO crew members and their live cargo of lab rats escaped unharmed after a cargo plane collapsed on the runway at Dublin Airport.
The incident was the first in a series of transport mishaps across the capital yesterday that caused serious disruption for commuters.
Five aircraft were diverted and there were knock-on delays to flights arriving and departing during the morning, as the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) temporarily grounded flights in and out of the airport.
It is understood the front nosewheel of the aircraft became disabled as it touched down at 8.41am, which caused the nose to hit the runway.
The airport opened an alternative crosswind runway within 30 minutes, which allowed flights to land and take off as it dealt with the crashed cargo plane.
The BinAir charter Metroliner aircraft carrying two German crew toppled onto its nose on the main runway after landing, as the supporting nose wheel appeared to collapse.
The Metroliner was travelling from Manston Airport in Kent, England, to Dublin on a routine flight.
It is understood it was carrying a cargo of live rats and mice destined for a science laboratory.
Emergency services including fire tenders and ambulances rushed to the scene when the incident happened at 8.41am.
There were no injuries to crew, or damage to other aircraft. Flights were grounded for 30 minutes and the cross-wind runway opened shortly after 9am.
Investigators from the Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU), based in the Department of Transport, surveyed the scene and inspected the damaged aircraft before it was removed early yesterday afternoon.
The DAA said flight operations continued as normal for most of the day, but five flights were diverted to Shannon.
They were two Aer Lingus flights from Chicago and Heathrow, and three Ryanair jets travelling from Edinburgh, Manchester and Birmingham.
The aircraft at the centre of the incident was a cargo version of the plane which crashed at Cork Airport in 2011, killing six people.
The Fairchild Swearingen SA-227 Metroliner III cargo transport plane, operated by German-based BinAir, was built in 1990 and was two years older than the Cork tragedy aircraft.
It is one of 11 operated by BinAir in both cargo and passenger configurations.
Investigators have one year to compile a report into the incident. The maintenance record of the aircraft will be examined as part of the probe.
Meanwhile, there were dramatic scenes on the M50 when a car burst into flames during morning rush hour.
A blue Renault Clio suddenly went on fire and stalled in the middle of the motorway near the Leopardstown Interchange around 8.30am yesterday.
The driver escaped injury but the incident caused huge disruption with traffic backed up for a more than a kilometer as the Clio lay idle on the southbound side of the motorway.
Motorists' visibility was also affected when the fire took hold and the car began to billow smoke.
"There was major, major disruption," an eyewitness said. "And the rubberneckers in the other lane who were not involved at all were causing big problems as well," he added.
A Dublin Fire Brigade tender and a recovery truck were on the scene and the incident was cleared after 40 minutes.
The presence of an ambulance or gardai was not required.
And to round off the morning of transport incidents, passengers aboard a Dublin Bus got a bit of a jolt yesterday when the No 13 bus wound up on a grass verge outside Dublin City University yesterday morning following a traffic accident in the area.
The driver of the bus bound for Harristown tried to veer away from the traffic snarl-up on the Ballymun Road and wound up on the verge.
But it ended up getting stuck in the soggy soil and a private tow-truck company had to be called in to take it away when the bus wouldn't budge.
Luckily no one was injured in the mishap, which occured around 11am and passengers aboard on the stricken bus were able to make their way to their destination on another bus.