Kolkata: An AirAsia India flight was forced to return to the airport here after a woman passenger claimed that she had explosives and threatened to blow up the aircraft mid-air but it turned out to be a hoax, officials said on Sunday.
No bombs were found following a thorough search of the plane after it made an emergency landing and preliminary investigation suggested that it was just a ploy by the woman, who was in an inebriated state, to return to Kolkata, they said. The incident happened on Saturday night after the Mumbai-bound flight carrying 114 passengers took off at 9.57 pm from the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport, they said.
A few minutes after it took off from the airport, the woman passenger on board allegedly gave a note to one of the cabin crew, asking it to be delivered to the pilot. The note said there were bombs strapped to her body and she would detonate it any moment, an airport official said. Following this, the pilot informed the air traffic controller (ATC) which directed him to return to the city airport, he said.
"The ATC had declared full emergency at that time. As soon as the aircraft landed at the airport, it was taken to the isolation bay at 11:46 pm," he said. The passenger was taken into custody by the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF). A thorough search of the passenger and the aircraft was carried out but no bombs were found, the official said. The woman, in her mid-20s, has been identified as Mohini Mondol who is a resident of Salt Lake area, said a senior officer of the Bidhannagar City Police.
The woman was arrested and the medical examination suggested that she was in an inebriated state, the police officer said. "An investigation has been initiated and we are also talking to her family members to find out why she was going to Mumbai," he said. Preliminary investigation revealed that the woman wanted to return to Kolkata and hence pulled off this ploy, the officer said.
An AirAsia India spokesperson stated that the flight operating from Kolkata to Mumbai made a "mid-air turn back for a precautionary landing after a passenger reported carrying explosives and warned of dire consequences".
"AirAsia India operations coordinated with Kolkata ATC to initiate an immediate landing in Kolkata. Post landing, the aircraft was secured with the assistance of airport security staff and all the protocols were followed by the concerned agencies and the individual in question was detained," the spokesperson added.
“AirAsia India is cooperating and providing all evidence in the investigation, the spokesperson stated.. All the guests were taken care of and were provided with an alternate arrangement of aircraft to Mumbai again,” the spokesperson clarified. "Delays caused due to this are regretted, but we would like to reiterate that we prioritize safety and security of our guests and crew at all times," said the spokesperson.