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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Monday, October 15, 2018

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Hoax bomb threat leads fighter jet to escort plane to Manchester airport

A Qatar Airways plane on suspicion of making a hoax bomb threat

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LONDON - A 47-year-old man was arrested aboard a Qatar Airways plane on suspicion of making a hoax bomb threat Tuesday after the plane was escorted by an RAF jet into Manchester Airport because of a "possible device" on board.

The Qatar Airways flight from Doha to Manchester was carrying 269 passengers and 13 crew members, according to a statement from the airline.

Qatar Airways flight QR23 was returning to Manchester Airport from Doha when a 'joke note' claiming a bomb was hidden on board was passed to cabin crew.

The pilot was alerted and a full-scale emergency response was triggered.

The passenger plane was escorted by Britain's Royal Air Force (RAF) military jets to Manchester airport.

The accused person was arrested by armed police when the plane touched down.

The suspect was led down the plane's stairs, his arms behind his back, accompanied by two armed police officers, according to pictures taken by passengers.

Police searched the aircraft and passengers' luggage as officials took no chances about the bomb threat. However, nothing was found.

Manchester Airport was placed on temporary lockdown and other incoming flights were diverted to neighbouring airports.

Nine incoming flights had to be re-routed, with five of these landing at Leeds Bradford airport and others at Liverpool John Lennon Airport.

Police allowed the plane passengers, barring the accused, to de-board the aircraft. His identity was not revealed.

Police and airport staff were dealing with situation as an emergency, the Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said Tuesday afternoon on their Twitter feed.

"A passenger has been taken off the plane by officers at Manchester airport. We will work to get others off as swiftly and safely as possible," the GMP tweeted.

"We can confirm that Typhoon aircraft were launched from RAF Coningsby in their quick reaction alert role this afternoon to investigate a civilian aircraft whose pilot had requested assistance," Britain's Ministry of Defence said in a statement.

"The aircraft was escorted to Manchester where it landed safely. This incident is now being handled by the civilian authorities."

Chief Superintendent John O'Hare said the safety of those on board as well as those in and around the airport was his "paramount concern" in the police operation.

Qatar Airways issued a statement confirming that flight QR23 from Doha to Manchester landed after its scheduled arrival time of 1.15pm.

It continued: "There were 269 passengers and 13 Qatar Airways crew on board. The crew onboard had received a threat about a possible device on board and Qatar Airways immediately took all the necessary precautions to alert British authorities.

"The crew is now fully assisting police at the airport with their inquiries. The safety and well-being of our passengers and crew is our top priority. As this is a matter of a police investigation, we cannot comment further at this time."

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