A hoax caller who has been making false bomb threat calls to multiple agencies at the Mumbai airport since Tuesday again called the Air India call centre on Thursday and claimed that 23 AI flights were under terror threat. The call came at 11:30am.
“The Air India office at Mumbai received a bomb threat call today evening. Accordingly, all authorities concerned were informed about the call. (Later) It was declared as non-specific threat,” Air India spokesperson GP Rao said.
According to security agencies the person who identifies himself as Mike has been using the internet to make the calls. “He claims that he is based in New York and has specific tip-offs of serial bomb explosion on flights operated out of the city airport. But since the calls are made from the internet, we have been unable to trace is location,” said a senior Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) official requesting anonymity.
The official added that between Tuesday and Thursday, he gave threat information about more than 50 flights -- all of which have turned out to be false until now.
Official sources in Chennai also said an unidentified anonymous caller threatened to bomb two Air India flights originating from the Tamil Nadu capital.
The caller allegedly threatened to blow up two AI flight 945 from Chennai to Hyderabad and the Chennai to Delhi AI flight 143, sources said.
The AI office at Benguluru also recieved a call about threat on Sharjah-bound flights. Subsequently, the airline has increased checks on all hand baggage and introduced a second round of frisking just before boarding.
On Tuesday, five Jet Airways flights, taking off for different domestic destinations from Delhi, were put under security checks following similar hoax calls. Agencies are yet to ascertain if the same person made those calls.
Eleven IndiGo jets were also searched on Wednesday after a ‘Smith’ from the US called its Chennai call centre and said the flights were facing bomb threat from a woman flyer from Pakistan.
All Indian airports were put on high alert soon after news broke about two bomb explosions at Brussels airport on March 22.
On Thursday, security agencies increased random frisking of fliers. Many passengers were asked to get their shoes scanned at security holds, added officials.
(With inputs from PTI)