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UK plane makes emergency landing

india Updated: Aug 18, 2006 23:31 IST
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A British passenger plane en route to an Egyptian resort made an emergency landing on Friday in Brindisi, southern Italy, after the pilot reported that a bomb was suspected to be on board, the Italian air traffic agency said.

All passengers on board the Excel Airways flight disembarked and were safe, state police at the airport said.

Excel said the captain made the decision to land in Italy after a passenger found a note written on the back of an airsickness back that read: "There's a bomb on this aircraft." Excel Airways official Jane Sebuliba called the landing "a precautionary diversion."

Italy's Air Force said it sent an F-16 to escort the plane to the airport. The airline said all security checks where followed at London's Gatwick airport prior to its departure at 1045 GMT. The plane, carrying 269 passengers and nine crew, was diverted to Brindisi three hours later.

Salvatore De Paolis, a border police officer at the Brindisi airport, said authorities searching the plane had recovered a handwritten note in English that said there was a bomb on the plane. De Paolis told Sky Tg 24 television news that the search was continuing.

Excel said the flight was expected to resume later. The ENAV agency said the plane, a Boeing 767, was bound for Hurghada, Egypt. Located on Egypt's Red Sea coast, the resort is famous for snorkeling and is a prime destination for low-cost flights from Europe. 

The emergency landing came amid a series of terror alerts and scares centered around planes.

A 59-year-old woman caused a security scare when she allegedly passed notes to crew members, urinated on the floor and made comments the crew believed were references to Al-Qaida and the Sept. 11 attacks on the London-to-Washington, DC, flight on Wednesday.

United 923, with 182 passengers and 12 crew members, was diverted to Boston and landed safely - with two fighter jets escorting it - after the pilot declared an emergency on board.

That scare came a week after London authorities said they foiled a terror plot to blow up trans-Atlantic flights. British authorities are questioning 23 people in connection with the alleged terror plot, while 17 people have been arrested in Pakistan.

And West Virginia airport terminal was evacuated on Thursday after two bottles of liquid found in a woman's carryon luggage twice tested positive for explosives residue.

Chemical tests turned up no explosives in the bottles, and the airport was reopened after nearly 10 hours. 

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