UK bomb hoax suspect faces mental assessment

Manchester: A 47-year-old man, arrested for allegedly making a mid-air hoax bomb threat that forced a Qatar Airways plane carrying 282 people to make an emergency landing at Manchester Airport, has been referred for assessment of his mental health.

The passenger, who has not been named, was arrested after the plane landed yesterday with an RAF jet escorting the aircraft to safety. The man was assessed by medical staff and again by a mental health team after the incident. The RAF Typhoon was seen escorting the Qatar Airways flight from Doha after the pilot was handed a note about a possible device on board. The man was sectioned "for a fuller assessment", Greater Manchester police said today.

"A man, 47, arrested following an incident at Manchester airport has been sectioned under the Mental Health Act," a spokesperson said. "Following his arrest he was assessed by medical staff and again by a mental health team. He was subsequently sectioned to allow for a fuller assessment and appropriate treatment," the spokesperson said.

The Airbus A330-30 was carrying 269 passengers and 13 Qatar Airways crew and landed ahead of its scheduled arrival time of 1315 local time, the airline said. Manchester Airport was temporarily closed and some other flights were diverted to Liverpool and Leeds. Operations at the airport resumed at about 1400 (local time) after flights in and out were suspended for about 25 minutes.

Passengers disembarked the plane "as normal", a Manchester Airport spokesperson said. The threat was allegedly made in the letter handed to a member of the crew and passed on to the pilot, who alerted air traffic control before the RAF jet was scrambled.

Aurangzeb, a 60-year-old who was returning from a holiday to his home in Bradford, told BBC: "I thought there was something wrong because there was a jet flying so near. He said the plane landed and was taken to an area well away from the terminal, where they waited for 45 minutes, then moved again closer to the terminal."

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