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Policemen Storm Dubai-Bound Emirates Plane At Heathrow Airport, 3 Held

PTI 09 Jan 2010, 11:44:14 IST
PTI

Armed police stormed a packed passenger jet at Heathrow airport in London on Friday night as it was about to take off to Dubai and arrested three men on suspicion of making a bomb threat.

The officers boarded the Dubai-bound Emirates EK004 flight, which had 331 people inside, after air crew alerted police, Sky News reported.

Police entered the plane when it was about to take off at 8 pm local time Friday night (0130 HRS IST today). The flight was grounded for over three hours.

Emirates said the incident occurred after "remarks" were made as the plane prepared for take-off.

Three men, aged 58, 48 and 36, have been arrested on suspicion of making a bomb threat, the report quoted the Metropolitan Police as saying.

The three men were handcuffed and dragged off the flight by officers wearing full body armour. One allegedly made a 'verbal threat' as the plane taxied towards the Terminal 3 runway, Mail Online reported.

Witnesses described the main suspect as a white man.

Passengers remained on board while officers emptied overhead lockers and sniffer dogs were brought on to the Boeing 777 to search for potential explosives.

Up to eight police vehicles surrounded the plane, although no ambulances were present.

The incident comes amid heightened security at airports across the world in the wake of the botched Christmas Day bombing of a US plane by 23-year-old Nigerian Umar Farouq Abdulmutallab.
 
The Mail reports, three men were handcuffed, arrested and dragged off the flight by officers wearing full body armour. One allegedly made a 'verbal threat' as the plane taxied towards the Terminal 3 runway.

The comment was overheard by a fellow passenger and reported to the on-flight crew.

Witnesses described the main suspect as a white male. The flight, due to leave Heathrow for Dubai at 8pm, was grounded for more than three hours.

Passengers remained on board while officers emptied overhead lockers and sniffer dogs were brought on to the Boeing 777 to search for potential explosives.

Up to eight police vehicles surrounded the plane - although no ambulances were present. Heathrow Airport remained open through the night, despite the security alert.

Passenger Cameron McLean said: 'Police just swarmed the guy and rushed him out. 'I think he was a white male. There was another one but I didn't see him.' He said the man was taken out in handcuffs then sniffer dogs were brought on board.

A Scotland Yard source  said: 'We are aware of a security incident at Heathrow. The airport and terminal remains open. We have not found anything'

A spokesman for Heathrow Airport said: 'I can confirm there has been an incident on the EK004 flight to Dubai. Police are attending. It's not affecting the rest of the airport which remains opens.'

The incident comes amid heightened tension at airports across the world in the wake of the alleged botched Christmas Day bombings.

Extra bag checks, body searches and on board regulations have seen travellers in London wait up to three hours before taking off.  Even when they are in the sky, some passengers have been told to remain seated for the final hour of flight time, with no access to the bathroom or overhead lockers and nothing on their laps, including blankets or pillows.

Others heading to the US.. have reportedly also seen bans on the use of electronic equipment, including laptops and MP3 players and, in some cases, in-flight entertainment has also been disrupted.