JFK-Bound Flight Diverted After Threatening Letter Found On Board
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — A passenger jet from Cairo to New York was diverted to the United Kingdom Saturday, after a threatening message was found onboard.
As CBS 2’s Dave Carlin reported, the flight left Egypt with a fighter jet escort – after passengers made the frightening discovery three hours after takeoff. The Egyptair jet — which was supposed to be a nonstop flight to John F. Kennedy International Airport — had to land on a remote section of the tarmac at Prestwick Airport in Glasgow, Scotland.
The note was reportedly found in a lavatory by Nada Tawfik a producer for BBC UN. She claimed that the note read, “I’ll set this plane on fire seat 46D.”
“It was written in pencil, and the pencil was actually there still with the note,” Nada said. “So I took the note to the crew and told them if the pencil is still in the bathroom make sure to keep the pencil in case they can get fingerprints.”
The U.K. Ministry of Defense confirmed that that fighter jets were scrambled to escort the plane to the Glasgow airport, but referred further questions to police in Glasgow.
Police in Glasgow confirmed that officers were responding to an incident but declined to provide further detail.
Investigators as of Saturday evening had recovered the pencil, which might yield fingerprints. They also interviewed all 326 passengers on the plane – resulting in very long delays for nervous passengers and relatives.
“Of course I’m scared,” said Ibrahim Basyouny, who was waiting for JFK for the flight to arrive. “It’s my family, man.”
Initially, no one from Egyptair could tell Basyouny why the flight had not arrived, 1010 WINS’ Gary Baumgarten reported.
Finally, Basyouny, of South Brunswick, N.J., got a frantic call from one of his four daughters – who were aboard the plane with his wife and mother.
Hours after arriving at Kennedy Terminal 4, Basyouny, his brother, and his nephews finally got a call from Scotland. They learned that the crisis was over, and the flight with its weary, rattled passengers was taking off for New York.
“It’s better now that we know they’re flying again,” said family member Mazen Abdelhamid.
The experience was especially terrifying for Basyouny’s daughters.
“This is the first time they fly,” Basyouny said. “They never fly before.”
Basyouny and his family will now be reunited well past midnight.
An Egyptair spokesman said standard procedure was followed that when this kind of threat is detected, the plane must land at the nearest airport.
The identity of the person who left the note remained a mystery Saturday night.
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