updated 12/15/2006 9:09:31 AM ET 2006-12-15T14:09:31

The screams were louder than the roar of the engines when more than 100 passengers on board a Saudi plane fought off an invasion by 80 stowaways: mice.

Al-Hayat newspaper reported on Friday that the mice escaped from the bag of a traveler on the internal Saudi Arabian Airlines flight and started falling on the heads and scurrying between the feet of panic-stricken passengers.

"An hour after it took off from Riyadh, the aircraft was at an altitude of 28,000 feet when passengers were surprised by the mice..." the paper quoted Omar al-Jarrah, an airline official as saying.

The authorities detained the owner of the bag after the aircraft landed in Tabuk, in the north west of the country, on Wednesday to investigate how he had managed to board the aircraft carrying live mice, it said.

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