Arrest made in bomb threat
Updated: 2012-09-03 07:17
By Huang Yuli, Tan Zongyang and Wang Zhenghua (China Daily)
A man was arrested in Wuhan on Sunday morning on suspicion of making a bomb threat that forced a passenger airliner to make an emergency landing.
The 29-year-old suspect, Xiong Yi, was taken into custody at a hotel in Dongguan, Guangdong, on Saturday, Xinhua News Agency reported.
Xiong Yi, a prime suspect in a hoax bomb warning that caused the division of a domestic flight on Aug 30, was escorted by police from Dongguan, Guangdong province, to a detention center in Wuhan, Hubei province, on Sept 2, 2012. [Zhou Guoqiang / China Daily]
According to Shenzhen Airlines, a man called Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport at 10:29 pm on Thursday and said that Flight ZH9706 - from Xiangyang, Hubei province to Shenzhen, Guangdong province - had explosives on board that would detonate 45 minutes after its departure.
The flight was already en route and made an emergency landing in Wuhan, capital of Hubei. No explosive device was found.
Huang Tingsong, a spokesman for Hubei's public security department, said Xiong is from Shiyan in the province and does business in Guangdong. He has confessed that he fabricated the bomb story and made the threatening call, according to the Xinhua report.
On Sunday morning, Xiong told reporters waiting at Wuhan Tianhe International Airport that he made the hoax call, adding that he regretted doing it.
Xie Yong, director of public security at the Wuhan airport, was quoted by China National Radio as saying that wrongdoers in such cases face criminal and civic liability.
It's the second time in a week that a flight in China has been threatened. On Wednesday, Air China's Flight CA981, from Beijing to New York City, returned to Beijing Capital International Airport two hours after departure because the airline received a threat about explosives on board.
No explosive was detected on the plane, and the flight took off again later that day.
Airports on alert
Meanwhile, airports in major Chinese cities, including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Hangzhou, have recently raised safety-inspection standards.
Li Xiaomei, a spokeswoman for Beijing Capital International Airport , said on Sunday that the Civil Aviation Administration of China ordered air hubs in the capital and elsewhere on Tuesday to tighten safety inspections.
"Efforts were made to ensure air traffic safety after the airport monitored that passenger traffic has gone up recently because the (Oct 1) National Day holiday is approaching," she said, adding that the airport will follow orders from aviation authorities to carry out the arrangement.
Li said the airport has added a number of employees and opened more gateways to improve the efficiency of security checks. But she urged passengers to bring on less carry-on luggage and arrange more time for boarding.
Peng Kan, a passenger flying from Beijing to Shanghai on Sunday morning, said he spent more time than usual going through body checks and carry-on luggage inspections.
"Almost everyone had to take off their belts and shoes, which had to go through X-ray machines," he said. "Security officials also opened my pack to check each item inside, including my cell phone charger."
At Shanghai's two airports, security checks were raised to a level on Sunday as high as when the city hosted the 2010 World Expo.
Passengers on domestic flights have been advised to arrive at the airports two hours in advance, and those taking international flights should show up even earlier.
At the city's Hongqiao International Airport, a system for explosives detection has been put in place at gates of the departure hall, and passengers were randomly selected for initial scanning.
At the security check area passengers are required to open their bags more often than before.
Also, electronic devices with lithium batteries are no longer allowed to be put in unaccompanied baggage and must be carried on for strict inspection.
Adam Amer, who flew from Hongqiao on Sunday, said the Shanghai airport is fast and convenient and in the United States, his home country, "every security check is as strict as this".
Some people are unhappy about the process.
"Usually, I can finish all the security checks in six to seven minutes, but now it takes much longer," said Fu Wenkui, a passenger who often travels between Shanghai and Beijing.
"I think, like me, many Chinese are still not used to taking off shoes and belts at the airport."
Contact the writers through email@example.com
Chen Jing in Shanghai contributed to this story.