Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 30 July 2014

Five seek asylum after plane alert

A plane travelling between Egypt and the US has made an emergency landing at Glasgow Prestwick Airport

Five passengers from the plane which made an emergency landing in Scotland following security fears are now claiming asylum in the UK, Police Scotland have confirmed.

The aircraft travelling between Egypt and the US was diverted to Prestwick Airport in Ayrshire on Saturday after a seemingly threatening note was found in a toilet. Following a search of the plane by police officers, during which no suspicious items were found, it was allowed to continue its journey on Sunday morning.

A spokeswoman for Police Scotland said five of the plane's passengers had sought asylum in Britain. They are now being dealt with by the UK Border Agency (UKBA). Remaining passengers and crew resumed the journey to New York, and police continue to investigate the circumstances of the incident.

The Egypt Air Boeing 777 was escorted to Prestwick by Typhoons from RAF Leuchars during its flight from Cairo to JFK Airport in New York.

It landed at about 2.30pm on Saturday and was met by a heavy police presence. It took six hours before all 326 people on board were removed from the plane to be interviewed by police.

BBC employee Nada Tafik was on board the plane and said she found a note in a toilet apparently threatening to start a fire.

She told the BBC News Channel: "I'm actually the one who found the note in the rest room. When I went in to change my daughter about three hours into the flight, I found a note by the sink saying 'I set this plane on fire' with the seat number 46 D written on it. So I immediately went to the crew and told them about it.

"It was on a hand napkin written in pencil and the pencil was actually still there so I told the crew to make sure to keep it so they can get any fingerprints off of it. They locked the bathroom immediately so that no-one could go into it.

"It almost looked like a child's handwriting or someone who has very sloppy handwriting, but it was very alarming especially these days when everyone is so concerned about safety on flights. I said to one of the stewardesses 'I don't know if this is a prank', they said 'no, it can't be a prank'. Either someone has a very bad sense of humour or, you know, it's very scary."

Glasgow Prestwick chief executive Iain Cochrane said: "We carefully plan and train for this kind of eventuality and I am relieved it ended safely and without incident. It was a complex and constantly evolving matter and I want to thank my staff for their unswerving professionalism and commitment during the 13 hours the aircraft was here, and praise the excellent manner in which all agencies involved worked together to resolve the matter.@

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