Spate of bomb threats grounds nine passenger planes in S. America
Nine passenger planes were forced to make emergency changes to their flights within Chilean, Argentine and Peruvian airspace on August 16, 2018, after multiple bomb threats were issued to Chile's civil aviation authority. Meanwhile, one European passenger airliner was forced to make an emergency landing in Greece following an alleged bomb threat onboard. All of the incidents occurred on the same day.
The director general of Chile's civil aviation authority (DGAC), Victor Villalobos Collao, said a total of 11 threats were made on August 16, 2018, two of which were "fictitious" and nine of which related to existing flights.
Some of the planes were reportedly operated by Chilean carriers – at least two by LATAM Airlines and three by the low-cost carrier Sky. According to the director, bomb threats onboard flights were issued to LATAM's offices, and the DGAC.
"We always have an abandoned suitcase or two, that's normal," he told journalists in a briefing at Santiago airport,” Collao was quoted as saying by the media. "But this is a totally exceptional case."
Four of the flights, Chile's capital Santiago, was either the origination or the destination, the DGAC said. For instance, a passenger on Flight LA433, originating from the Argentine city of Mendoza and headed for Santiago, tweeted this:
Everybody stuck on board - the captain just informed us of an alert for a bomb threat on our plane from Mendoza to Santiago @LATAM #LA433 - we will need to disembark in the runway. Hopefully everything will be fine! pic.twitter.com/YgqafIy5nF— Giovanni Circella (@CircellaG) August 16, 2018
EVERYTHING IS FINE! What an experience! We had to disembark on the taxiway for a bomb alarm - flight LA433 from Mendoza to Santiago. We are safe, no worries! @LATAMAirlines #santiagodechile pic.twitter.com/f8lLgmTBCC— Giovanni Circella (@CircellaG) August 16, 2018
After security checks involving teams for deactivating explosives were performed by the police, all of the planes were declared clear. Investigators are now trying to trace the origin of the bomb threats.
And in another part of the world, on the island of Crete in Greece, a passenger plane flown by the German leisure airline Condor, was also forced to make an emergency landing over an alleged bomb threat on board.
The Boeing 757, carrying more than 270 passengers and 11 crew members, had taken off from Hurghada in Egypt and was headed to Dusseldorf, Germany, when it was forced to land at Greece‘s Chania International Airport (CHQ) on August 16, 2018.
As can be seen, Flight DE69 was diverted to Chania airport after two hours in the air:
Update: @Condor #DE69 Hurghada (HRG) to Dusseldorf (DUS) has diverted to Chania (CHQ) in Greece after squawking 7700 general emergency about 40 minutes ago. Flight is operated by a Boeing 757-300.— Fanda! Aviation News (@FandaAviation) August 16, 2018
Playback on @flightradar24: https://t.co/ik921U7qyx pic.twitter.com/co8hkqfXLu
Condor confirmed to German media DW that its aircraft made an unscheduled landing at Chania for safety reasons.
"The reason why the aircraft had to divert was a safety measure that had to be executed at Chania airport. On board were 273 passengers. The aircraft has landed safely and deboarded normally," a spokesperson for the carrier was quoted as saying.
The Boeing airliner was escorted to Chania airport by two Greek air force F-16s and the airport itself was briefly placed on a state of alert. The reports of the bomb threat are currently being investigated by the police.
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