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Man arrested for plane bomb hoax calls

By Dong Zhen and Yang Jian (Shanghai Daily)

10:18, May 16, 2013

A man who allegedly made bomb threat calls yesterday and disrupted five domestic flights to Shenzhen was arrested early this morning by police.

Shenzhen police said the suspect, surnamed Wang, made six hoax calls to several flights yesterday morning. The arrest was made at 3:15am today, police said.

Wang allegedly had confessed to making all the calls, according to police.

Police so far had not revealed more details and said an investigation was still underway.

Five flights, all bound for Shenzhen, were disrupted because of the calls.

Juneyao, Shenzhen and China Eastern airlines received threatening calls between 8 and 9:30am saying there could be bombs on their flights to the southern Chinese city departing from Shanghai, Beijing, Nanjing, Xi'an and Lanzhou.

Four flights had already taken off. Two were told to return immediately while two others were diverted, the airlines said. The fifth flight was still on the ground.

Juneyao Airlines' flight HO1111 from Shanghai to Shenzhen was the first to be affected after a threatening call at around 8:05am shortly after the aircraft had taken off from Hongqiao International Airport.

"The caller's rough meaning was there is a 'suicide bomb' on flight HO1111," said Chen Jiang, director of operations at Hongqiao, yesterday.

The airport immediately initiated an emergency response, sending police officers, firefighters and ambulances to the apron, but the flight had just taken off, Chen said.

The plane was told to turn around at 8:21am and return to Hongqiao where police, fire trucks, explosion proof vehicles and ambulances were all standing by.

"The security guard in plain clothes sitting among passengers on the flight showed his identity shortly after landing and asked all the passengers to remain seated and evacuate gradually," said Lu Zhengqing, a Juneyao duty manager at Hongqiao.

The flight, using another aircraft, took off three hours later after an inspection of all passengers and their luggage.

'Freaked out'

Meanwhile, Shenzhen Airlines flights from Nanjing, Xi'an and Beijing were affected by similar threatening calls before 8:30am.

"I was freaked out because the aircraft suddenly turned back while numerous police cars, fire trucks and even ambulances could be seen waiting on the ground," said a passenger surnamed Yang on the ZH9866 flight from Nanjing in east Jiangsu Province.

The plane was asked to return, while the ZH9243 flight from Xi'an in northwest Shaanxi Province was diverted to the nearest airport in Guilin in south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

The other Shenzhen Airlines flight, ZH9889, had yet to take off at Beijing Capital International Airport.

The fifth flight to be affected was China Eastern's MU2325 from Lanzhou in northwest Gansu Province. A threatening call was received at around 9:30am.

The flight was due to stop over in Xi'an and the call was received shortly before it was due to land there. The aircraft was diverted to another airport in the city and took off again after an inspection, China Eastern said.

Hoax callers face up to five years in jail but the term can be extended in the case of injuries and there is a maximum term of 15 years on callers who pose a serious risk to air safety due to their actions.

In December, police detained a man in central Henan Province on suspicion of making a bomb threat that forced two planes to remain grounded. Last September, a man whose hoax call caused the emergency landing of a Shenzhen Airlines flight was detained in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.

And last July, a Chinese man was sentenced to 14 months in prison in July after calling Pudong International Airport saying he planted a bomb on an Air China flight.

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