Free Press Journal

2 officials sacked, Chinese airport shuts after security breach


Beijing: China has sacked two officials and closed down a provincial airport following a recent incident in which a passenger managed to smuggle a lighter, gasoline and knife into a plane and attempted to set a fire on board a flight.

The director and vice director of the civil aviation administration of Taizhou City in its eastern Zhejiang province have been removed from their posts over the incident on Shenzhen Airlines flight ZH 9648, the municipal government of Taizhou was quoted as saying by state-run Xinhua.

A man was subdued by crew and fellow passengers after trying to light a fire on the flight from Taizhou, as it was landing in Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport in southern Guangdong Province early Sunday morning, the airport said. The China Central Television (CCTV) quoted a passenger as saying a man with a knife had lit a curtain and newspapers in the first-class cabin.

The fire filled the cabin with heavy smoke. Other reports said gasoline was used. The incident has prompted questions how the arsonist managed to bring a knife, lighter and gasoline onto the plane. The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) ordered Taizhou airport to suspend operations from Wednesday morning, saying the airport was found to have “severe safety risks”.

The flight was carrying over 100 passengers and crew. All of them were evacuated after emergency landing. CAAC asked local branches to conduct safety checks on medium-sized, small and new airports after the incident.