Pakistani passenger jet with 187 people on board landed in Kuala Lumpur at 9:24 pm yesterday following a bomb alert, but a search of the aircraft found no explosive devices on board.
Security officials in Istanbul with sniffer dogs searched the Boeing 777-300EA, which had 378 passengers on board, as well as passengers’ luggage for three hours, Anatolia news agency said.
No explosives were found and the bomb threat was declared a hoax, CNN-Turk and NTV news channels reported, quoting airport authorities.
The plane had departed from Lahore in Pakistan bound for the British city of Manchester, when it was diverted to Istanbul, a spokesman at Manchester airport told AFP.
The bomb alert, which came as the aircraft was flying over the Bulgarian capital of Sofia, caused panic among passengers, Anatolia news agency said.
After landing in Istanbul around 1400 GMT, the passengers were evacuated from the aircraft, which was moved to a security zone.
In Malaysia, a Pakistani passenger jet with 187 people on board landed in Kuala Lumpur at 9:24 pm following a bomb alert, but a search of the aircraft found no explosive devices on board, officials later said.
The scheduled flight from the Pakistani city of Lahore to the Malaysian capital landed after the bomb threat was received while it was in mid-air.
“According to our people on the ground, the plane has been searched and they have not found any bomb, it appears to be a hoax,” Pakistan High Commission official Hamid Raza Khan told AFP.
Airport authorities confirmed that police completed a search of the plane’s cabin and cargo hold and “declared the aircraft to be cleared of any explosive materials”.
“The checked-in luggage have been offloaded from the cargo compartment and screening of the luggage will be performed by the Bomb Disposal Unit and the K-nine Unit,” the airport said in a statement.
Airport officials said they had received information from PIA officials of “an aircraft bomb warning” for Flight PK898 from Lahore to Kuala Lumpur at 8:45 pm.
“The flight PK898 safely landed at 9:24 pm. The airline confirmed a total of 164 passengers, three cockpit crew and 10 cabin crew on board,” the airport said.
The airport said all the passengers had left the plane and were being held at a secure lounge while they were screened.
A senior PIA official confirmed the two bomb threats.
“We received emails about the presence of bombs on two PIA flights,” the official told AFP.
“Since the flights had taken off already, the pilots were directed to land at the nearest airport.”
“One flight bound for Manchester landed in Istanbul and the second flight touched down at Kuala Lumpur,” the official said on condition of anonymity.