Around noon today, Nagpur ATC received an odd but urgent communication from a foreign airline that was then flying over Nagpur airspace, or close to Nagpur.
“We have been warned that there is ‘Bomb on board’ can we make an emergency landing at Nagpur’s Babasaheb Ambedkar international airport ?”
After some urgent discussions, the Captain of the Turkish airline calling was told to land instead at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi airport since it was a bit closer than Nagpur.
Thus the plane, an A 330, carrying about 150 passengers landed at Delhi where it was cordoned off in a secure area of the airport and passengers evacuated immediately.
Then a bomb squad with sniffer dogs boarded the plane and searched it, but found nothing suspicious or incendiary.
This Turkish Airlines flight was operating between Istanbul and Bangkok.
It is learnt that a crew member saw this warning sign ” Bomb on board” written in lipstick on the mirror of one of the Economy class washrooms and immediately alerted the Captain. The captain then decided to not take chances and contacted first Nagpur airport Air traffic Control.
Questioned if it had landed in Nagpur could the Nagpur Airport authority have handled the bomb threat, NT was told by an official, who did not want to be named that yes, Nagpur being an international airport, they are well equiped to deal with such scenarios.
In Delhi, not only did they just check out the plane they also kept hospitals of Delhi on alert in case the bomb went off when Indian security agents were on board checking. But it now transpires that this was most probably a hoax played by some passenger.
All female passengers are being questioned one by one to get at the truth.
The strange thing is that such incidents are becoming habitual with this airline. This was the fourth such ‘bomb hoax’ in the last 3 months.
In April this year, a bomb threat had grounded a Turkish flight with 151 passengers — the third such threat made against the airline in less than a month.
The Turkish Airlines flight was flying to Basel in Switzerland on Tuesday but was forced to make an emergency landing in Ataturk Airport in Istanbul when the bomb threat was discovered, the Dogan News Agency reported.
The plane, a Boeing 738, with 151 passengers on board, was recalled while it was in Bulgarian airspace to return to the airport. It was able to land safely and no one was injured.
This incident is the third in less than a month that have forced the carrier to divert or recall flights.
Now the number of such hoax has gone up – haven’t they heard the story of the girl who cried ‘wolf’ too often?