Air France Jet Forced to Land After Bomb Threat
An Air France passenger jet sits on the tarmac after making an emergency landing due to a bomb threat in Recife, Brazil. (Associated Press)
The delay in the plane's departure from the northeastern city of Recife is necessary because regulations require that the crew receive a certain amount of rest, an Air France spokesman in Brazil told The Associated Press by telephone Sunday. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter.
Solange Argenta, a spokeswoman with the Brazilian government's airport authority, Infraero, said Sunday that the inspection of the plane had ended but officials were still examining baggage. She said this would not be completed until midafternoon. If nothing suspicious is found, the flight will take off as planned a few hours later, Argenta said.
All 405 passengers and 18 crew members were safely evacuated from Air France Flight 443 on Saturday night, said Infraero spokesman Jorge Andrade.
The bomb threat was phoned in to Rio's international airport by a female voice about 30 minutes after the plane took off, the Air France spokesman said. The control tower contacted the jet and the decision was made to land in Recife, he said.
In Paris, Air France spokesman Jerome N'Guyen confirmed a full inspection of the plane had been completed and nothing suspicious had been found. Passengers were taken to nearby hotels until the plane could take off again.
Argenta said the flight originally took off at 4:20 p.m. local time (3:20 p.m. EDT; 1920 GMT) and that the plane landed in Recife at 7:53 p.m (6:53 p.m. EDT; 2253 GMT).
The jet taxied to a secluded area of the airport and those on board were quickly removed, Infraero said in a statement. The airport was closed for about 30 minutes, and then reopened.
Flight 443 was on the same route as an Air France jet that crashed in June 2009 off Brazil's northeastern coast, killing all 228 on board. While no definite cause has been determined in the crash, authorities have repeatedly ruled out foul play.