Airline says Taiwan flight to China diverted after passenger claims explosives on board

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Taiwan-China flight diverted after explosive claim

TAIPEI, Taiwan — A flight from the Taiwanese capital to the eastern Chinese city of Shanghai was diverted to a nearby Chinese airport after a passenger traveling on a U.S. passport told cabin crew his luggage contained explosives.

Spokesman Bruce Chen of Taiwan’s China Airlines said the plane landed safely at Hangzhou on Saturday and Chinese authorities took the passenger away for questioning.

Chen identified the detained passenger as George Lin and said he was traveling on a U.S. passport. He said that Lin did not appear to have been drinking excessively.

“The passenger told the cabin crew very calmly that he had explosives in his luggage,” Chen said. “After the plane landed in Hangzhou, it was very carefully checked and nothing was found.”

Staff at the U.S. Consulate in Shanghai said Sunday that they could not comment on the case or even confirm there had been an arrest without the signing of a privacy waiver.

Offices were closed Saturday and Sunday and staff manning hot lines for the airports and for China Airlines said they were not aware of any flight disruptions.

Chen said the plane was on the ground in Hangzhou for about four hours before continuing onto Shanghai. It landed there without incident at around 5 p.m. (0900 GMT), he said.

China and Taiwan began regular direct flights in 2008 after newly inaugurated Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou moved to reverse his predecessor’s pro-independence policies in favor of closer economic ties with the mainland. There are now some 270 weekly flights between the sides.

China and Taiwan split amid civil war in 1949.

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