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Air China flights in hoax call incidents

By Yang Jian (Shanghai Daily)

08:31, October 10, 2012

TWO Air China flights received threatening calls before take-off yesterday, but both turned out to be hoaxes after thorough checks revealed nothing suspicious, the airline said.

The incidents followed a China Southern Airlines flight from Istanbul to Beijing that made a forced landing after receiving a hoax call threatening a terrorist attack on Monday.

Six Chinese flights have now been disrupted by hoax calls in the past two months.

Air China's flight CA4111 from Lhasa, capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region, to Beijing via Chengdu and flight CA1578 from Nanchang in east Jiangxi Province to Beijing both received anonymous threatening calls shortly before take-off, said Ding Yue, an Air China spokesman.

The airline evacuated the passengers on both flights, and thorough inspections of the aircraft and passengers were carried out.

"The crew members told us we needed to get off the plane at around 5pm and the airport authority launched strict security checks among all of us and our luggage," said a passenger on the flight from Lhasa.

The flight had been due to depart at 4pm.

In Nanchang, passengers were evacuated and security guards rushed onto the aircraft at around 6pm, said Zhang Chengchao, a passenger on the flight.

"Many fire trucks were parked by the aircraft and all the passengers were asked to stay in a restricted area in a terminal building," Zhang said.

Just after 8pm, the carrier announced that no dangerous or suspicious items had found on either flight and both took off at around 8:15pm.

Hoax calls have become more frequent this year with more than 10 affecting domestic carriers.

Under Chinese law, hoax callers face prison sentences of five years or more for making threats that lead to flights being disrupted.

In some previous incidents, some callers had made threatening calls in protest at long delays or poor services.

Others were said to have tried to disrupt flights for personal reasons.

Xiong Yi, for example, a 29-year-old suspect in one case, is said to have forced a domestic flight to divert early last month when he made a bomb threat.

Officials said he was trying to delay meeting with a creditor who was on the plane.
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