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Flight diverted above United Kingdom after two passengers make bomb threats

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
May 24th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Terrorist threats are taken very seriously nowadays - after two men got into an argument with a stewardess on a flight headed to Manchester, England, they threatened to blow up the plane. British fighter jets were sent to divert the plane to another airport and the men in question were promptly arrested.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Typhoon fighter jets were launched from RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire, eastern England upon hearing reports of the bombing threat. The Pakistani International Airlines flight, a Boeing 777, originally bound for Manchester was then diverted to Stansted Airport in Essex.

The two male passengers in question, ages 30 and 41, were removed from the plane by British authorities on charges of suspicion of endangering an aircraft. The plane was parked on an isolated runway at Stansted.

Stansted is one of London's less busy airports, preferred as a location for handling airplane security incidents. The rest of the airport was operating as normal.

Pakistan International Airlines Mashood Tajwar said the airline had been unable to contact the pilot of the airplane, in spite of repeated attempts. There were 297 passengers with 11 crew members on board.

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service said 10 fire engines had been sent to the airport.

According to two tracking Web sites, the aircraft broke off from its descent about 60 miles east of Manchester. It turned and followed a wide arc over northeast England and out to the North Sea before heading towards London.

Wajid Hasan, Pakistan's High Commissioner to the United Kingdom told CNN that the two passengers "got into an altercation with air stewardesses and threatened to blow up the plane." The air stewardesses contacted the pilot, who contacted UK air traffic control authorities, who then scrambled the fighter jets, he said.

"So far nothing has been found," he said. "All the passengers are off the aircraft and are being screened, as would be normal, by immigration authorities," he said, and the cargo is also being searched.

The commission has sent officials to Stansted Airport to provide consular assistance to passengers who need it, a written statement said.

A Pakistan International Airlines official earlier said the diversion was prompted by an unruly passenger. "The passenger was simply causing a disturbance on the plane and threatening passengers and staff. This is a lesson to angry passengers," the official said.

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