Delhi Police said it received a call about a bomb scare on board an Iran-China flight from the air traffic control on Monday, but was soon informed that the aircraft was not landing in Delhi. Two fire tenders were put on standby at the Indira Gandhi International Airport and two IAF Su-30 MKI fighter jets were scrambled to intercept the plane.
While Indian authorities gave the Mahan Air flight two options to land, in Jaipur and Chandigarh, the pilot refused to divert the plane. The IAF jets, however, followed the aircraft closely but at a safe distance for the duration of the time it was in Indian airspace.
The Airbus A340, with a capacity of between 320 and 475 passengers, was on its way from Iranian capital Tehran to China’s Guangzhou. The flight is said to have contacted the Delhi ATC after the airline received a bomb threat and called for an immediate landing in Delhi.
#Breaking | China-bound flight scare: IAF issues statement‘Plane was given an option to land at Chandigarh also, Information from Tehran was received to disregard the bomb scare’@GrihaAtul | @poonam_burde pic.twitter.com/oqmLdnzTxl
— News18 (@CNNnews18) October 3, 2022
“We got a call from the ATC informing us about a bomb scare on the Tehran-China flight. But as we were making arrangements, we were informed by the ATC that the flight was not landing in Delhi," a senior police officer said. Delhi Fire Services said the fire control room received a call regarding the bomb scare around 9.25 am.
“As per our standing operating procedure, two fire tenders along with senior officers were on standby," deputy chief fire officer Sanjay Tomar told PTI. “All the nearby fire stations were also informed to stay alert in case extra tenders would be required. But the flight did not land in Delhi and we got an all-clear message at 10.05 am from the airport security," he said.
The IAF said the fighter jets were scrambled after information about the threat and followed the aircraft at a safe distance. “The aircraft was offered the option to land at Jaipur and then, at Chandigarh. However, the pilot declared his unwillingness to divert to either of the two airports," the IAF said in a statement.
It added: “After a while, intimation was received from Tehran to disregard the bomb scare, following which, the aircraft continued on its journey towards its final destination."
The Mahan Airline also issued a statement about the incident and said, “The pilot, as soon as he learned about the possibility of a bomb in the flight, shared the situation with the nearby control centre. After communication with the operation control centre of Mahan Air, the pilot realised that the bomb threat was fake and that the flight was completely safe."
Reports suggest that the passenger jet is now moving towards China and security agencies are monitoring the plane. Data from FlightRadar showed the plane reducing its altitude over the Delhi-Jaipur airspace for a brief period before it was seen exiting Indian airspace. The plane was also spotted flying in circles a handful of times above New Delhi, before continuing to fly across the country and into Myanmar. The nature of the bomb threat remains unclear.
(With agency inputs)