Cairo: A bomb threat forced an EgyptAir aircraft en route to Beijing from Cairo to make an emergency landing in Uzbekistan today, Egyptian officials said, the latest in a series of deadly or damaging air travel incidents involving Egypt.
The plane, an Airbus A-330-220, landed at the airport in the town of Urgench, about 840 kilometres west of the Uzbek capital, Tashkent, three hours after it took off from Cairo at around 11:30 p.m. yesterday.
All 135 passengers and crew on board were evacuated and the aircraft was being searched, the officials said. They had no word on whether a bomb or any other suspicious object was found on board.
According to the Egyptian officials, an anonymous caller telephoned security agents at the Cairo airport to say a bomb was on board the flight. The agents immediately contacted the aircraft and ordered it to land at the nearest airport, they said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
In Russia, the news agency RIA Novosti quoted an unnamed official with Uzbekistan Airways as saying the airport has been 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 extremist 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 bettered tourism industry. While the cause of the May 19 EgyptAir crash remains unknown, it has associated Egypt with another air disaster that further dented the once lucrative industry. (AP)