January 19, 2014 / 12:32 AM / 5 years ago

Brazil bomb scare spurs emergency landing, brief airport closure

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - A bomb threat left in a Brazilian airport caused a TAM Airlines flight to make an emergency landing and briefly closed the airport in the Amazonian city of Manaus on Saturday, five months before the country hosts the World Cup soccer tournament.

A note that said a bomb was onboard TAM flight 3540 was found in a bathroom at Brasilia’s Juscelino Kubitschek airport, airport officials said.

That flight, which had already left Brasilia bound for Boa Vista, evacuated passengers via emergency slides when it landed on the runway at Eduardo Gomes airport in Manaus.

The Manaus airport had reopened at 4 p.m. Brasilia time (1800 GMT) after no explosive device was found on the plane, a spokeswoman for the Infraero national airport authority said. She also said no other airports were affected.

TAM spokeswoman Fernanda Feres said passengers on the affected plane had been rebooked on another flight leaving for Boa Vista, the capital of Roraima state, on Saturday. TAM is the local unit of LATAM Airlines Group.

Federal police told Globo News they suspect a former TAM employee may have written the note left in Brasilia although investigations were ongoing.

Feres said the company had no comment on the investigation.

TAM cut some 780 employees late last year, reducing its workforce by 4 percent in an effort to boost profits despite high fuel costs and a weaker local currency.

Manaus is a popular destination for tourists exploring the Amazon rainforest and one of 12 cities hosting World Cup soccer matches in June and July.

Reporting by Caroline Stauffer, editing by G Crosse

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