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Two Air France flights from U.S. diverted by bomb threats
November 18, 2015 / 3:41 AM / 2 years ago

Two Air France flights from U.S. diverted by bomb threats

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Two Air France flights bound for Paris from the United States were diverted for several hours on Tuesday following anonymous bomb threats, and more than 700 passengers and crew were safely taken off the planes, officials said.

Emergency personnel are shown on the tarmac at Salt Lake City International Airport in this photograph taken by passenger Keith Rosso from a seat inside Air France flight 65, November 17, 2015. REUTERS/Keith Rosso/Handout via Reuters

Flight 65, an Airbus A-380 that departed from Los Angeles, landed safely in Salt Lake City, where passengers and crew were escorted into the terminal, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration said. The Salt Lake Tribune, citing an airport official, said it was carrying 497 passengers and crew.

The FBI said in a statement that no evidence was found aboard the plane “which would lend credibility to the threats” against the flight.

The airport said operations were not affected, and local Utah media including broadcaster KSL reported that passengers had been cleared to reboard and resume their journey.

Keith Rosso, a passenger who tweeted a photo shortly after takeoff from Los Angeles, said he was “thankful to everyone who has been working to keep everyone calm and make sure air travel is safe. Hope to be taking off again shortly.”

A separate Boeing 777 that left Dulles International Airport outside Washington, D.C., Flight 55, was diverted to Halifax International Airport in Nova Scotia, which said 262 passengers and crew members had safely disembarked.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Halifax said on its Twitter feed that police dogs searched the plane for evidence of explosives, but no details were disclosed.

In a brief statement, Air France said both flights had been the “subjects of anonymous threats received after their respective take-offs.”

“As a precautionary measure and to conduct all necessary security checks, Air France, applying the safety regulations in force, decided to request the landings of both aircraft,” the airline said in its statement.

It said authorities inspected the aircraft, passengers and luggage, adding: “An investigation will be led by the authorities to identify the source of the telephone call.”

Security officials have been on high alert since Islamic State militants claimed responsibility for attacks last week in Paris that killed 129 people. Russia has said the group was also responsible for the downing on Oct. 31 of a plane returning to St. Petersburg from the Sharm al-Sheikh resort in Egypt, killing all 224 on board.

The incidents did not appear to be causing flight delays or cancellations elsewhere.

According to data on flight tracking website flightradar24.com, flights operated by both Air France and other airlines appear to be taking off and landing normally at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris.

Reporting by Victoria Cavaliere, Dan Whitcomb and Steve Gorman in Los Angeles, Amran Abocar in Toronto and Daniel Wallis in Denver; Editing by Ken Wills

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