A Delta Airlines flight from Atlanta, Georgia, to Belize was searched by a police bomb squad at Belize's Philip Goldson International Airport on Monday, July 25, 2011, after the pilot reported suspicious activity by a passenger and "the possibility of a bomb threat."
Delta Airlines said in a statement that a passenger was removed from the flight and questioned by local law enforcement authorities. The plane was met upon arrival by police and soldiers, and the police bomb squad went through the plane with sniffer dogs, who did not find anything suspicious.
The passenger in question is a 15-year-old French national who remains in police custody since Monday, after pulling a practical joke in mid-air. The Delta Flight 4345 was carrying a total of 71 passengers. They were taken to an airport lounge after the plane landed as scheduled at the airport.
"The flight landed safely; passengers exited the plane, and local law enforcement removed and questioned a passenger,” according to the Delta statement.
According to News5 in Belize City, “After the passengers alighted the aircraft they spoke to a young man who originally is from France, he speaks French. He was the person who apparently held up a piece of paper showing it to his friend at the back of the aircraft marked “help!” This was on the immigration form with an exclamation mark on it.
This got the attention of the flight attendant at the rear of the aircraft. The flight attendant then went forward and spoke to the young man and asked him what the problem was. He then said nothing was the problem but the paper dropped from his hand and that was when the flight attendant noticed the reverse side of the form that there was a drawing of an atomic bomb exploding. So he got concerned when he saw that piece of paper. He asked the young man for the paper and initially the young man reluctantly didn’t to give it to him but he eventually gave it to him.
The flight attendant then took that paper to the captain who radioed into to our airport here explaining to them that there’s a possible, there maybe be a device on the aircraft. So the airport authority got their procedures in action and alerted everyone.”
Belize's Civil Aviation Authority said the plane's pilot reported "suspicious behavior of (a) passenger aboard the aircraft" to controllers about six minutes before the plane landed, including the "possibility of a bomb threat."
Picture courtesy of Channel 5 News