Sun, May 16, 2010
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Canadian fighter jets escort Hong Kong plane after bomb scare, no explosives found

2010-05-16 08:13:49 GMT2010-05-16 16:13:49 (Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

VANCOUVER/OTTAWA, May 15 (Xinhua) -- A Cathay Pacific passenger plane was escorted by two Canadian fighter jets to the Vancouver International Airport on Saturday after a bomb threat, but no explosives were found on the plane.

The Airbus A-340 aircraft, escorted by two Canadian Forces CF-18 Hornets, landed safely at about 1:35 p.m. local time (2035 GMT). It then taxied to an airport gate and all passengers were safely deplaned.

Corporal Sherrdean Turley of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) said a phone call was received at 10:43 a.m. (1743 GMT) about a bomb on Flight CX838 originating from Hong Kong.

"All necessary screening procedures were carried out and nothing of concern was identified," said Turley, adding that she couldn't say, from an investigational standpoint, where the call originated from.

"No one was injured during this incident and the investigation is continuing. The threat is being taken very seriously and I would just like to reassure the traveling public that there is no threat to them at this time."

Cathay Pacific said in a statement that there were 283 passengers and 14 crew members aboard the plane.

"A security issue raised on the ground in Vancouver resulted in extra security for the aircraft inbound to the airport and upon arrival," said the statement.

A Mandarin-speaking passenger who identified herself as Mrs. Chong said she didn't know what happened, but she had to wait inside the airport for three to four hours after getting off the plane.

"They didn't tell us anything. Only I know is I can't get my luggage. They just told us there are some problems with the security check."

Alicia Glohe of the Vancouver Airport Authority told Xinhua that, to her understanding, the RCMP had cleared the aircraft. "I believe it's been deemed 100 percent safe and is heading back to Hong Kong."

Alex Shum, vice president of Cathay Pacific Airways Canada, said there were no incidents among the passengers.

"(The RCMP) Checked the whole aircraft, all the baggage, and everything is now settled. They released the airport back to Cathay and the aircraft is going to depart now," he said.

Emerging from the airport departure area after waiting six hours for her baggage, Deepika Vaswami said she didn't know there was a threat to the aircraft until she saw the news on television.

The Mumbai woman said she spotted one of the fighter jets about 10 minutes before landing.

"We were quite excited because children see it (the fighter plane) in the movies, and there was no chaos on board," she said.

Earlier in the day, Canadaian Defense Minister Peter MacKay confirmed the threat.

"The CF-18 escorted the aircraft to Vancouver and it landed without incident," he said.

Local media quoted military officials as saying that the jets responded quickly from their base in Comox, on Vancouver Island, when information of the potential threat was received.

A search and rescue aircraft plus a military helicopter also responded to the call in case the incident developed.

The fighter jets, which are authorized to respond to security threats with any measures, did not land with the Cathay Pacific flight and have returned to their base.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Department of Defense are investigating the incident.

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