EgyptAir Plane Lands in China After Bomb Threat

Updated on

Cairo (AP) -- An EgyptAir plane that made an emergency landing Wednesday in Uzbekistan following a bomb threat resumed its flight and landed in Beijing, Egyptian officials said, the latest in a series of deadly or damaging air travel incidents involving Egypt.

The officials said no bomb was found after the Airbus A330-220 and its passengers were searched by explosives experts. The plane took off for the Chinese capital four hours after it landed in the town of Urgench, about 840 kilometers (600 miles) west of the Uzbek capital, Tashkent.

According to the officials, an anonymous caller telephoned security agents at the Cairo airport to say a bomb was on board EgyptAir Flight 955, which had 135 passengers and crew on board. The agents immediately contacted the aircraft and ordered it to land at the nearest airport, the officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

Russian news agency RIA Novosti quoted an unnamed official with Uzbekistan Airways as saying the airport in Urgench was closed following the EgyptAir plane's emergency landing.

The incident came nearly three weeks after an EgyptAir flight crashed in the Mediterranean Sea as it was approaching the Egyptian coast while en route to Cairo from Paris. All 66 people on board were killed and the search for the plane's flight and data recorders — the so called black boxes — is still underway.

Egyptian officials say the Paris-Cairo plane was most likely downed by an act of terror.

Last October, a Russian airliner crashed in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula shortly after taking off from the Egyptian resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh, killing all 224 people on board. A local affiliate of the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for downing the aircraft just hours after the crash. In November, Russia said an explosive device brought down the aircraft.

The Russian airliner's crash has decimated Egypt's already battered tourism industry. While the cause of the May 19 EgyptAir crash in the Mediterranean remains unknown, it has associated Egypt with another air disaster, further damaging the once lucrative industry.

The two disasters have unsettled authorities at the Cairo airport, where false alarms or bomb threats have caused lengthy delays to flights and at least one cancellation this week.

Security has also been considerably tightened at Egypt's 20-plus airports since the Russian plane crash, with passengers now subjected to roughly the same security measures in force at major international airports.

In March, an Egyptian man hijacked an EgyptAir plane on an Alexandria-to-Cairo flight and forced it to land in Cyprus. Seif Eddin Mustafa threatened to destroy the plane with a fake suicide belt, saying he was doing so because he opposes Egypt's military-backed government.

All 72 passengers and crew members aboard the Airbus A320 were released unharmed after a six-hour standoff and the hijacker was taken into custody. He is now in court fighting extradition to Egypt.

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Associated Press writer Nataliya Vasilyeva in Moscow contributed to this report.

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This story has been corrected to show that the number of the flight is EgyptAir 955, not 995.

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