Bomb scare on flight from San Francisco to Singapore

PHOTO: Singapore Airlines flight SQ33 was diverted due to a bomb threat. (via FlightAware)

A flight from San Francisco California to Singapore suffered a bomb threat midway through the journey. Singapore Airlines flight SQ33 alerted the Singapore Police Force early this morning that a passenger had become unruly and claimed to have a bomb on board the flight. While the claim was found to be false, the flight was on high alert and the Republic of Singapore Air Force was deployed.

The flight with the alleged bomb threat left the American city at 10.05pm on September 26, which is 1.05pm on the 27th in Singapore local time. The popular route uses an Airbus A350-941 for the 16-hour journey to Singapore, with a capacity of 253 people. The number of passengers on board this flight was not officially released.

It wasn’t until 13 hours into the flight that the authorities in Singapore were informed of the possibility of a bomb on the flight. At 2.40am the flight reported a passenger had become agitated. The flyer was identified as a 37 year old man who is alleged to have struck a cabin crew member. He was brought under control and restrained by the crew but claimed that he was carrying a bomb in his cabin bag.

The flight crew followed emergency procedures and made a descent while circling over the South China Sea around 4.30am rather than a more direct descent as it arrived in Singapore. They dropped gradually from its 40,000-foot cruising altitude down to about 10,000 feet. The plane with the possible bomb then dropped to just 1,800 feet while circling over Batam Island, just off the coast of Singapore an hour later at 5.42am.

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When the plane made its landing just 10 minutes later, Royal Singapore Air Force F-16 fighter jets escorted the commercial flight to Changi Airport. Due to the bomb threat, the aircraft was led away from the terminal and was parked at a remote bay. There the plane and all the passengers were thoroughly screened and put through security checks.

The Airport Police Division was joined by the Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Explosives Defense Group, a division of the Singapore Army. They did a comprehensive investigation of the plane and the threats. No bomb was found, and the threat was determined to be false.

The man who made the fake bomb claim was arrested for terrorist acts and also for suspicion of being on drugs.

Only then, after three and a half hours of investigation, was the plane towed to Terminal 3 where shaken passengers and crew members were finally allowed to disembark at 9.20am.

SOURCE: Channel News Asia

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Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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