A Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) jet with 187 people on board landed in Kuala Lumpur following a bomb alert, but a search of the aircraft found no explosive devices on board, officials said late Wednesday.
The incident came shortly after another PIA flight bound for Britain was forced to make an unscheduled landing in Istanbul because of a similar bomb threat, the airline said.
The scheduled flight from Lahore to the Malaysian capital landed at 9:24 pm on Wednesday after a bomb threat was received while it was in mid-air. A total of 164 passengers, three cockpit crew and 10 cabin crew on board.
Airport authorities confirmed that the police completed a search of the plane’s cabin and cargo hold and “declared the aircraft to be cleared of any explosive materials”.
“The checked-in luggage has been offloaded from the cargo compartment and screening of the luggage will be performed by the Bomb Disposal Unit and the K-nine Unit,” the airport said in a statement.
Airport officials said they had received information from PIA officials of “an aircraft bomb warning” for Flight PK898 from Lahore to Kuala Lumpur at 8:45 pm.
In the incident in Istanbul, a similar bomb alert forced a PIA plane from Lahore to Manchester to land at Ataturk airport on Wednesday.
That alert came as the aircraft was flying over the Bulgarian capital Sofia and caused panic among passengers, Turkey’s news agency Anatolia said.
A senior PIA official confirmed the two bomb threats.
“We received e-mails about the presence of bombs on two PIA flights,” the official told AFP. “Since the flights had taken off already, the pilots were directed to land at the nearest airport.”
A press release issued by the national carrier in Karachi confirmed the incidents and claimed that airline had acted to ensure the safety of its passengers.
PIA said that it received an anonymous e-mail at around 5:08 pm, which the airline’s management brought to the attention of the Pakistan Airport Security Force, as well as the authorities in Kuala Lumpur and Istanbul.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 8th, 2011.
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