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UK scrambles fighter jets after Air India ‘bomb threat’

Flight from Mumbai to Newark escorted to London’s Stansted Airport where all 327 passengers were evacuated after landing; police investigating

Illustrative: Royal Air Force Quick Reaction Alert Typhoon fighter aircraft that were scrambled to intercept a civilian aircraft over England June 29, 2019. (Courtesy - Royal Air Force)
Illustrative: Royal Air Force Quick Reaction Alert Typhoon fighter aircraft that were scrambled to intercept a civilian aircraft over England June 29, 2019. (Courtesy - Royal Air Force)

LONDON, United Kingdom — Britain on Thursday scrambled fighter jets to escort an Air India passenger flight forced to land at London’s Stansted Airport following a “bomb threat,” according to security officials and the airline.

“The RAF (Royal Air Force) can confirm Quick Reaction Alert Typhoon aircraft were launched this morning… to intercept a civilian aircraft,” Britain’s defense ministry said in a statement.

“The aircraft was safely escorted to Stansted Airport.”

The plane, en route from the Indian city of Mumbai to Newark in the United States, made a “precautionary landing” at the airport after a “bomb threat,” Air India said in a tweet that was subsequently deleted.

It later said the diversion, initiated at around 9:50 a.m. local time (0850 GMT), followed “reports of a security alert.”

“The plane (is) currently at the airport,” an Air India spokesperson added in a statement, noting all the 327 passengers were being cared for inside a terminal.

Stansted Airport, around 56 kilometers (35 miles) northeast of London, said the Boeing 777 landed there 25 minutes after being diverted with police in attendance.

“It is parked on an isolated stand away from the normal airport operations,” the airport added in a statement, noting its runway had fully reopened.

Police in the southeastern English county Essex, where Stansted is located, said officers were “making inquiries.”

Illustrative – An Air India Boeing 777-200LRs aircraft. (Courtesy – Boeing)

British reports suggested the scrambled fighter jets had caused a sonic boom heard across the impacted area.

“The Typhoon aircraft were authorized to transit at supersonic speed for operational reasons,” the defense ministry said.

“Any inconvenience caused to local residents is regretted.”

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