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'Non serious incident' on Sunday Amsterdam-Detroit flight sparks alarm after bomb scare

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2009-12-28

An emergency was declared by a Delta/Northwest Amsterdam-Detroit flight on Sunday due to a disruptive passenger. On the same flight on Friday, a passenger tried to blow up the aeroplane.

AFP - A Northwest Airlines flight crew sought emergency assistance Sunday for a disruptive passenger who was taken into custody as the plane landed in Detroit, an airline official said.

Amid heightened global security concerns, the disturbance occurred on the same Northwest Flight 253 that was targeted by a terror suspect on Christmas Day.

Members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTF) rushed to the plane after it landed and parked in a remote section of Detroit Metro Airport -- but after an investigation the FBI dismissed the event as a "non-serious incident."

"All is clear at this point," read a statement from Sandra Berchtold, with the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Detroit division.

Friday's Northwest Flight 253 -- traveling the same path from Amsterdam to Detroit as the Sunday flight -- was the target of an apparent terrorist attack by Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.

Passengers and crew subdued Friday's attacker and the plane landed safely. US authorities took Abdulmutallab into custody and charged with trying to blow up the plane.

On the Sunday flight, which arrived in Detroit from Amsterdam at 12:34 pm (1834 GMT), "there was a verbally disruptive passenger, and out of an abundance of caution the flight crew requested law enforcement meet the aircraft," Susan Elliott, a spokeswoman for Delta, told AFP.

The flight with 257 passengers and 12 crew landed safely, Elliott said.

"We don't know what set off this incident... It was unclear whether the outburst was directed toward crew members or fellow travelers," another Delta spokeswoman Olivia Cullis said in London. Northwest and Delta merged in 2008.

The JTF at the Detroit airport "responded to a report from an incoming flight from Amsterdam where a passenger spent a lengthy time in the restroom. This raised concerns so an alert was raised," the FBI said.

Officials looked into the case "and the investigation shows that this was a non-serious incident," the FBI's Berchtold said.

US President Barack Obama was notified about the latest security scare and requested a new security briefing from top aides, a spokesman said Sunday.

National Security Council chief of staff Denis McDonough notified Obama shortly after 9:00 am Hawaiian time (1900 GMT), White House spokesman Bill Burton said.

Burton issued the statement in Hawaii, where the vacationing Obama is monitoring the situation following Friday's attempted plane terror strike.

Date created : 2009-12-27

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