Explosives Experts and Bomb-Sniffing Dogs Inspect Flight Diverted to Greenland After Bomb Threats
Scandinavian Airlines System Flight 937 from Copenhagen landed safely at the Kangerlussuaq airport on the west coast of the Arctic island of Greenland on Tuesday evening.
People on board had not detected anything unusual, local police vice superintendent Erik Terp said, but the plane had been immediately isolated and the airport was closed to all traffic until the plane could be inspected.
The 192 passengers and 11 crew members were evacuated and taken to a nearby hotel to await a decision on whether the plane was safe to fly to the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport later Wednesday or whether a new plane would be used.
SAS, the joint national carrier for Denmark, Sweden and Norway, also treated most of the passengers to a free tour of Greenland's ice cap, which covers 85 percent of the world's largest island.
"We were flying as planned when the captain suddenly said he would make a stop at the nearest airport," passenger Jakob Stoustrup told The Associated Press by telephone. "The captain said the reason was two bomb threats made in Seattle. People reacted very calmly and there was no panic."
"There was some frustration over the delay, but when the captain elaborated after we landed, all passengers backed him up on his decision," said Stoustrup, a 39-year-old Danish university professor who was en route to a conference in Alaska.
One written threat was found at a Jack in the Box restaurant near Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, and another in an airport restroom, said Bob Parker, a Seattle-Tacoma airport spokesman. Parker said the matter had been turned over to the FBI.
Seattle FBI spokesman Ray Lauer said he had little information about the matter.
Jack in the Box shift manager Shirad Alsamarrai said the threat at the restaurant was written on a wall in the men's room.
One threat read simply "SAS 937 bomb," said Anders Bjorck, an SAS spokesman in Bridgeport, Connecticut. The other was similar "with some obscene words at the end of it," he said. Both were written in English.
The information was relayed to the pilot, who decided to divert Flight 937, a Boeing 767, Bjorck said.
"When we get notes like that, we always take them very seriously," he said. "We don't compromise with that."
Troels Rasmussen, an SAS spokesman in Copenhagen, said the passengers included "a mix of Scandinavians, Europeans and Americans."
Greenland, with some 55,000 inhabitants, is a semiautonomous Danish territory.
The Kangerlussuaq airport is located in the city of Soendre Stroemfjord, a former U.S. Army base some 450 kilometers (280 miles) north of Greenland's capital, Nuuk.