by Kolapo Olapoju
A man suspected of making a bomb hoax aboard a Qatar Airways plane has been arrested by the British police. The incidence prompted the need for a military fighter jet to be dispatched to escort the plane down.
The jet, a British Royal Air Force Typhoon was called in to follow the Airbus as it approached UK airspace, at about 10.30pm Australian time. It guided down the plane, which was travelling from Doha with 282 people on board on Tuesday, 5 August to Manchester airport, England.
Witnesses on board said armed police entered the aircraft and escorted the suspect off with his hands on his head.
The Chief Superintendent of Greater Manchester Police, John O’Hare, said; “A 47-year-old man from the northwest (of England) has been arrested on suspicion of making a bomb hoax and remains in police custody for questioning.”
“A full search of the aircraft has now finished and nothing suspicious was found. The incident arose when the pilot received information about a possible device on board the plane, having been handed a note from a passenger.”
One of the passengers, 60-year-old Aurang Zeb said two armed police officers came on board and removed the suspect passenger, who stayed quiet. “I saw all the police with guns. Lots of police everywhere. Kids were crying, some people looked very worried because of rumours there’s a bomb on the plane,” he said.
Another passenger Matthew Cox, 24, from nearby Chester, said: “There was a general kind of nervousness but there was no full-scale panic once on the ground.” He added that all the passengers’ luggage was searched before they were allowed to leave the airport.
Josh Hartley, also aboard the flight, was live-tweeting photos of the nerve racking experience. He said the RAF Typhoon followed them for about five minutes.
He tweeted at the airport; “Still kinda shaking,” while he told BBC that “The flight was pretty calm all the way through, but some people are shaken up, quite a few. It was scary. We’ve had no information all the way through this. I was thinking of the possibilities.”
Meanwhile, Qatar Airways has confirmed that a threat had been made on flight QR23 from Doha to Manchester, which was due to arrive at 1.15pm local time.
Their statement read, “There were 269 passengers and 13 Qatar Airways crew on board. The crew on board had received a threat about a possible device on board and Qatar Airways immediately took all the necessary precautions to alert British authorities.”