Korean Airlines jetliner lands after bomb threat
TORONTO (AP) – A Korean Airlines Boeing 777 en route from Vancouver to Seoul was diverted to a nearby Canadian military base after the airline’s U.S. call center received a bomb threat.
Authorities continued to search the aircraft early Wednesday and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said nothing suspicious had yet been found.
Korean Airlines said in a statement that the call center received the threat Tuesday about 25 minutes after take-off from Vancouver International Airport. Airline officials said the aircraft with 149 passengers then turned around.
Maj. Holly Apostoliuk, a Canadian spokeswoman for The North American Aerospace Defense Command, said two U.S. F-15 fighter jets from Portland, Oregon, escorted the plane to Canada’s Comox air base on Vancouver Island, 113 miles (182 kilometers) outside Vancouver.
The passengers and crew stayed overnight in the area while officials did a detailed search of the plane’s luggage on Wednesday, RCMP Inspector Byron Massie said.
Massie said nothing suspicious had yet been found.
Massie said the same Korean Airlines flight out of Vancouver faced a similar threat Monday and the all-clear was given after a two hour search. He said Monday’s threat was called in somewhere other than the airline’s U.S. call center but he declined to say where.
Korean Air spokeswoman Penny Pfaelzer, based in Los Angeles, said that the caller warned that an explosive was on board the aircraft.
An airline spokeswoman in Korea said all the passengers and crew were safe and that the airline would decide on a new departure time after a safety inspection.
The flight was traveling from Vancouver International Airport and was diverted to Comex at about 5:30 p.m. local time (8:30 p.m. EDT, 0030 GMT).
Vancouver International Airport spokeswoman Alisa Gloag said flight 72 landed safely at Comox about three hours after it took off.
Massie said the passengers and crew in Tuesday’s latest incident were at a secure location on the Comox base while the search was being conducted.
Korean Air is one of several Asian airlines that have been scrambling in recent days to change the flight paths for many routes to avoid a rocket North Korea says it will launch later this week.
Pyongyang has said the rocket will carry a satellite into space, but the United States, Britain, Japan and others have urged North Korea to cancel the launch, saying it would be considered a violation of United Nations resolutions prohibiting the country from nuclear and ballistic missile activity.
Associated Press writers Hyung-jin Kim in Seoul and Jay Arnold in Washington contributed to this report.
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