x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Bomb warning prompts emergency landing

A man has been arrested after a bomb hoax on a Bangladesh flight from Sharjah.

A bomb hoax on an Air Arabia flight from Sharjah caused a red alert at Chittagong airport in Bangladesh on Wednesday. Bomb disposal experts, army personnel and fire officers met the plane carrying 81 passengers after a flight attendant found a handwritten note warning of a bomb on board. "There is a bomb set," said the note written in Bengali left on a service tray, according to Air Arabia's communications manager Housam Raydan.

A member of the flight crew who found the note asked a passenger to translate it for her. When its contents were revealed, she notified the captain who immediately alerted air traffic control of a possible emergency. The plane was given priority landing status at Chittagong and was towed to an unused part of the airport where it was searched, but no bomb was found. Upon landing all 81 passengers were asked to provide a handwriting sample and security personnel arrested a Bangladeshi man.

The plane was scheduled to take off at 2:50pm to return to Sharjah but left two and a half hours late as a result of the incident. The man who has been arrested is currently being investigated and police have yet to decide whether he will be charged with a crime. "Some people think that making such threats is a laughing matter, but we at Air Arabia take these matters very seriously," said Mr Raydan. "Our flight crew have procedures that they follow when incidents such as this take place and they handled this incident professionally and according to procedure."

On Wednesday, a British man on trial for a bomb hoax on an Emirates Airlines flight pleaded not guilty and said he was joking when he stood up brandishing a mobile phone in each hand, pressing buttons on them and screaming that a bomb would go off in seven minutes. MW, 37, also pleaded not guilty in the Dubai Criminal Court of First Instance to charges of attacking a civilian and assaulting a member of the flight crew on the flight from Manchester to Dubai. Passengers wrestled with him and subdued him. M W told the court in his defence he had been drinking and suffered from panic attacks. ealghalib@thenational.ae