Bomb threat confirmed on AirAsia flight

Bomb threat confirmed on AirAsia flight

BANGKOK - A deputy director of Phuket International Airport yesterday confirmed that there was a telephoned threat of a bomb on a plane operated by AirAsia, which landed safely at the airport on Tuesday. Kanputt Mungklasisi said his office had filed a complaint with police after a caller claimed there was an explosive on AirAsia Flight 3003 that left Bangkok for Phuket.

His statement contradicted his boss; director Pratuang Sornkam said on Tuesday that the so-called bomb threat on the AirAsia flight was only an emergency drill that nobody had been informed about.

Kanputt was speaking at a press briefing after chairing a meeting of security officials as well as navy officers about the bomb threat. Initial investigation showed the threat was highly likely to have been aimed at creating a disturbance and the caller could have been an insider or employee of companies operating inside the airport.

The caller may have been affected by new measures to rearrange the airport, he said.

He added that the investigation would take into consideration possible problems of Thai national football players who were among the passengers of the flight. The team, led by coach Kiatisak Senamuang, is scheduled to play warm-up matches against Myanmar, Phuket Football Club and Qatar in preparation for the Asian Games in South Korea.

Security measures at the airport will be strengthened, including checking on individuals and items to ease concerns among the public including tourists. The Navy will send members to take part in the security teams, Kanputt said.

The bomb threat was made after the flight left Don Mueang International Airport. Phuket Airport received the call at 12.10pm.

After the plane landed, the Phuket Airport authorities initiated emergency procedures including parking the aircraft in an isolated area, evacuating the 168 passengers and searching their luggage.

As a precaution, the return flight of the Airbus A330-200 from Phuket to Don Mueang was delayed from 12.50pm to 3.08pm.

Kanputt said his office planned to hold emergency exercises this week but Tuesday's incident was not part of those.

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