U.K. Police Question Two After Pakistan Air 777 Flight Diverted

Two men are being questioned by police on suspicion of endangering an aircraft after a U.K.- bound Pakistan International Airlines Corp. jet was diverted yesterday to London Stansted airport.

Police boarded flight PK709 from Lahore at Stansted, the U.K.’s designated counter-terrorism airport, and arrested two British nationals after reports the men had argued with crew members and repeatedly attempted to enter the cockpit.

“Detectives from the Kent & Essex Serious Crime Directorate are continuing to interview two men, aged 30 and 41, after they were arrested yesterday (Friday) on suspicion of endangerment of an aircraft,” a spokesman for Essex police said in an e-mailed statement today.

The flight was scheduled to land in Manchester, northern England, at 1:30 p.m. local time, Manchester Airports Group spokesman John Greenway said yesterday. PIA said air traffic controllers ordered a diversion after being contacted by the jet’s pilots when the two men quarreled with crew.

“The cabin crew informed us that basically they tried to come into the cockpit a few times and because they had been asked not to do that, they got into a bit of an argument with the crew and made a few threats,” Umari Nauman, one of the 297 people on board, told Sky News. All the passengers were ordered to leave their possessions on board before leaving the plane, she said.

An initial search of the airliner found no suspicious items, Essex police Superintendent Darrin Tomkins told reporters yesterday. Today’s statement said the rest of the passengers were allowed back onto the aircraft with their luggage at around midnight, and they continued with their journey to Manchester.

“The passengers returned to the aircraft after they had spoken to police, and officers, working with the airport authorities, had checked the Boeing 777 airliner,” the statement said.

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