New Delhi: An emergency landing by a Turkish Airlines flight at the Indira Gandhi International (IGI) airport following a bomb scare message on Tuesday afternoon left security agencies into a tizzy. It was later found to be hoax, as no explosives were found in the flight which took off after around nine hours.
Flight TK0065 took off after a brief questioning of all the passengers separately by a joint team of intelligence and Delhi Police officials, a police official said.
The flight was on its way from Bangkok to Istanbul with 134 passengers onboard when someone saw a bomb threat written on the windowpane of the toilet. According to sources, the threat message was written using a lipstick.
Ali Gence, Turkish Airlines' senior vice president for media relations, said the A-330 aircraft was diverted to Delhi "following a possible bomb threat on board" and "successfully landed" here. All passengers and cabin crew were evacuated safely.
He said necessary safety checks were made "in line with standard safety procedures".
"The crew saw a message about 'bomb in cargo hold' written on a toilet mirror and informed the pilot and co-pilot. The pilot contacted the Nagpur Air Traffic Control, who guided them to the Delhi ATC," a source said.
Sources said the plane made the emergency landing around 1.40 p.m. at the IGI soon after directions from the Delhi ATC.
"The flight was made to land at an isolation parking. All passengers were evacuated safely from the flight and emergency declared at the airport," a police official said.
All security agencies, including the National Security Guard (NSG) and Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) were placed on high alert. A bomb disposal squad scanned the plane along with a dog squad. Senior officials of CISF and NSG officials held a meeting after the bomb scare.
All passengers and crew members were "interrogated" by joint teams of intelligence and security agencies.
All baggage, especially handbags, were searched "to match the lipstick tone and colour which was used to write the threat message", a source said.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh also held a high-level meeting with home secretary L.C. Goyal and the Intelligence Bureau.
Minister of State for Civil Aviation Mahesh Sharma said all "the necessary arrangements" were in place for any eventuality.