Aviation authorities said no explosives were detected on board a Turkish Airlines aircraft which made an emergency landing at the New Delhi airport on Tuesday after a bomb scare.
Civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju said at a press conference that 134 passengers travelling by the Bangkok-Istanbul flight were questioned.
Security agencies later concluded that the bomb threat was a hoax , and the plane took off for Istanbul nearly nine hours after it landed.
The bomb threat was found scribbled with stick on a mirror inside the toilet while the flight was mid-air
The message, which reportedly said “bomb in cargo hold”, was spotted by a crew member while the aircraft was in Indian airspace.
A source in the Central Industrial Security Force, which guards airports around the country, told Hindustan Times: "The pilot observed something suspicious and informed the air traffic controller.”
The Turkish Airlines aircraft parked at an isolated bay at the Delhi airport. (Photo: ANI)
National Security Guard commandos were rushed to the Indira Gandhi International Airport and passengers on the flight were evacuated after the aircraft was taken to an isolation bay.
However, a thorough search yielded no explosives. "Initial checks ruled out any threat. Flight operations are normal at Delhi airport,"an airport source said.
Intelligence and security officials questioned the passengers for clues about the incident. Their baggage too was checked.
Ali Genç, Turkish Airlines’ senior vice president for media relations, said flight TK0065 had successfully landed in Delhi and all "passengers and cabin crew have been evacuated safely and taken to the terminal building".
He said in a statement: "Necessary safety checks are currently taking place." After completing necessary safety checks, the aircraft would continue its journey to Bangkok, he added.
Since April, Turkey’s government-run carrier, Europe's fourth-largest airline, has faced a series of bomb threats that have all proven to be false.
Another Turkish Airlines jet was diverted on Monday after a "suspicious item" was reported on board. The aircraft was later cleared to fly, according to aviation monitoring firm Flight Radar.
The flight path of the Turkish Airlines jet TK65 that made an emergency landing at the Delhi airport on its way to Istanbul from Bangkok on Tuesday. (Photo: Flightradar24.com)
In May, operations were temporarily suspended and staff was evacuated from the cargo area at the Indira Gandhi International Airport following a scare about a leak in a consignment of radioactive liquid that arrived in a Turkish Airlines flight, but authorities later declared there was no radioactive leakage.
The Bureau of Civil Aviation Security, India’s aviation security regulator, and other security agencies have a standard operating procedure in case of a security threat or a bomb alert.
"If it is in mid-air, the aircraft is diverted to the nearest airport in an emergency situation," said an official.
At all Indian airports, the official said, such landings are treated as emergencies, which mean fire tenders, ambulances, doctors and security personnel are kept on standby to deal with any eventuality.
The aircraft, on landing, is directed to an isolated bay and it is searched after the passengers are evacuated. The cargo is scanned separately.
If an alert is raised for a flight taking off from an Indian airport, a similar drill is followed after which boarding is permitted.