Thursday , June 13 2024

‘Turn back or it will be shot down’: Vietnam Airlines flight threatened

A Vietnam Airlines aircraft flying from Japan’s Narita airport to Hanoi was diverted to another Japanese airport after a caller threatened that it would be shot down over Tokyo Bay.

About 40 minutes after the flight had taken off, at 11.10 a.m. local time, the airlines’ office in Japan received a call from a man who spoke Japanese but claimed to be American. “Flight VN5311 better turn back to Narita or it will be shot down when passing Tokyo Bay,” the anonymous caller threatened.

When the call receiver asked the man to repeat the message, he said: “I am preparing to shoot VN5311 when it flies above Tokyo Bay. It better turn around.”

The flight had departed at 10.30 a.m. from Narita with 12 attendants, three pilots and 47 passengers. It was about to pass Tokyo Bay when the call came, and the flight was diverted to land at another airport in Japan.

The Japan office called Vietnam Airlines’ headquarters in Hanoi, which then reported the call to Japanese authorities, the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) and an agency of the Ministry of Public Security.

The airline also called an urgent meeting of its emergency and anti-terrorism task force.

With permission from Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh and Minister of Transport Nguyen Van The, the CAAV directed Vietnam Airlines to ask for Japanese authorities’ permission to land the aircraft at Fukuoka Airport.

The jet landed at Fukuoka safely at 1:02 p.m.

Japanese authorities came to the airport and interviewed the flight crew and passengers to evaluate the situation.

They found no unusual signs and allowed VN5311 to leave for Hanoi. It arrived at 6:12 p.m. (Hanoi time).

VN5311 was the first regular flight between Vietnam and Japan as the two countries resumed the route after a suspension period due to Covid-19.

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