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Air India has denied a lizard was found in an in-flight meal on a Delhi-London flight on June 11.

The airline’s denial follows the publication of a picture on social media which purportedly shows the lizard’s head underneath a bun on a meal tray.

It is not clear from the photo if the creature is dead or alive.

India’s state-owned airline has dismissed the report as a “false and baseless hoax” launched to tarnish its image.

The alleged incident took place when the flight attendants were serving lunch, The Times of India reported.Air India lizard in in flight meal

The publication quoted a source as saying: “Soon after it was placed on to the tray, the passenger was heard screaming.”

The source said that the lunch was wrapped in cling film and the lizard scurried from underneath a burger.

“The passenger was very upset and said that he would lodge a complaint with the airline on landing,” the source was quoted as saying.

However, Air India insisted to strongly deny the allegation.

“No such complaint by any passenger of the flight has been received on board the flight or at the Air India office in London,” the airline said in a tweet.

Civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju also dismissed the claim, pointing out that no-one had come forward to say that they took the picture since it was posted on social media.

The row comes at a time when India’s national carrier is battling huge debts which reports say has resulted in delayed payments to its caterers.