Cathay plane escorted to Vancouver after "bomb hoax"

VANCOUVER Sun May 16, 2010 1:06am EDT

A Cathay Pacific airplane sits at the terminal at Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, British Columbia May 15, 2010. REUTERS/Lyle Stafford

A Cathay Pacific airplane sits at the terminal at Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, British Columbia May 15, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Lyle Stafford

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VANCOUVER (Reuters) - A Cathay Pacific airliner from Hong Kong was escorted by military fighter jets to its destination in Vancouver, Canada, after what the airline called a "bomb hoax," but no bomb was found, police said on Saturday.

Police searched the aircraft and luggage after the flight landed at Vancouver International Airport, but "nothing of concern" was found and there was no danger to passengers, according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Two Canadian CF-18 Hornets were scrambled from a military base on nearby Vancouver Island to escort the Cathay Pacific Airways plane in response to the threat, according to police and the Hong Kong-based airline.

"The Vancouver Airport Authority had earlier received an anonymous bomb threat," Cathay said in a written statement.

"As a precaution, two military jets escorted the CX838 as it came into land. The jets did not land with CX838, but returned to their base," it added.

"The Royal Canadian Mounted Police are conducting an investigation into the bomb hoax and at this stage it is inappropriate for us to comment any further," Cathay added.

The flight had 272 passengers and 14 crew on board.

Police did not release details on the threat, but a spokeswoman for Hong Kong's Civil Aviation Authority said the bomb threat had been made by phone.

No arrests have been made and passengers were allowed to leave the aircraft after it landed safely.

The A340 aircraft was parked at a secure area of the airport for a "thorough security search" and screening of baggage, before being cleared, the airline said.

"They told us there was some sort of terrorist problem and the baggage would be held up," an unidentified male passenger told Canada's CTV News after disembarking.

When asked if he was aware that the flight had been escorted by military jets into Vancouver, another male passenger said: "No, no idea. That's news to me."

(Reporting Allan Dowd; Additional reporting in Hong Kong by Don Durfee, James Pomfret and Saikat Chatterjee; Editing by Sandra Maler and Jerry Norton)

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