Kathmandu: A Delhi-bound Jet Airways flight was on Sunday evacuated at Kathmandu's Tribhuvan International Airport after authorities received a threat about a bomb on the plane, officials said. The threat turned out to be a hoax, and the flight was scheduled to take off on Sunday night.
"We conducted a search in the plane after evacuating all the passengers," said Devendra K.C., spokesperson for the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal. Nothing was found inside the Boeing 737 plane after a thorough search, and officials also searched the luggage of the passengers. The plane was scheduled to take off at 4.20 p.m. carrying 169 people, including crew members.
All national and international flights were cancelled up to 6 p.m., officials said. Deputy Inspector General Madhav Joshi, who is also the spokesperson of Nepal Police, confirmed that airport security officials received information about a bomb on the Delhi-bound flight. He said the passengers were evacuated and told that the flight was delayed "due to bad weather".
Defence analyst Maj. Gen. Ashok Mehta (retd.), who was to take the flight, told IANS that the passengers "heard rumours about a bomb being planted". Security was beefed up at airport after the threat. The plane was kept in an isolation bay and searched by a bomb disposal squad of the Nepal Army. After getting security clearance, the airport resumed operation in the evening.
Officials said someone made a phone call at the Jet Airways office in New Delhi and informed airline officials that a bomb has been planted on the Delhi-bound plane. The information was immediately relayed to Kathmandu, and all inbound and outbound flights at the airport were suspended temporarily following the bomb scare.
However, hours after getting security clearance, passengers said they were still unsure when the flight will take off. "We are still waiting at the airport and boarding time has been deferred three times," said Maj. Gen. Mehta. Even after repeated calls made by IANS, the Jet Airways local office did not pick up the phone.
A statement put up by Jet Airways on Twitter only said the flight 9W 260 from New Delhi received a security alert. "The flight with 161 guests and seven crew onboard landed safely at 16:35 (local time) in Kathmandu. The aircraft is being checked by local security agencies." The airways regretted the inconvenience caused to the passengers, while reaffirming that safety and security of guests and the crew was always their main priority.
A Nepali passenger, who did not wish to be named, told IANS that Jet Airways has two flights from Kathmandu to Delhi. Passengers who were supposed to take the first flight were sent to a hotel in Kathmandu after the flight was cancelled. Mehta said passengers who were supposed to take the second flight to Delhi were still at the airport and waiting for boarding.