EasyJet plane diverts over 'suspicious conversation'

UK-bound flight from Slovenia makes emergency stop in Germany as passengers claim men on plane talked about 'terrorism'.

    Easyjet said the flight would take off Sunday after passengers had been provided with overnight hotel accommodation [File: Reuters]
    Easyjet said the flight would take off Sunday after passengers had been provided with overnight hotel accommodation [File: Reuters]

    A London-bound easyJet flight was diverted to Cologne on Saturday evening due to a "suspicious conversation" heard on board, with passengers evacuated on emergency slides and three men arrested, German police said.

    The pilot of Flight EZY3246, which had taken off from Slovenia's capital, Ljubljana, made a diversion to Cologne Bonn Airport after passengers reported that the men were talking about "terrorist matters", a police statement said. The men were not identified.

    "Investigations continue regarding the suspicion of preparations for a serious violent crime that could have jeopardised the state," the statement said.

    A backpack that belonged to the men was examined and destroyed in a controlled explosion by authorities but no dangerous contents were found, a police spokesman said on Sunday.

    Police carried out security checks on the aircraft and questioned the Stansted-bound passengers after all 151 on board were evacuated safely from the Airbus 319 aircraft using emergency slides, the airport said in a statement on its website.

    A spokesman at the airport told Al Jazeera that the passengers had been checked into hotels close to the terminal overnight.

    Airspace disruption

    Six aircraft were diverted to other airports as a result of the police investigation, the airport said.

    It said air traffic was affected for several hours as a result of the incident.

    No additional passengers were detained, the spokesman said.

    Bild newspaper quoted a spokesman for the German federal police as saying the pilot decided to land the aircraft in Cologne after passengers told airline personnel they had heard the men using words including "bomb" and "explosive".

    The newspaper also reported that according to unnamed sources, the three suspects are British and work in London. They are not known to police and were on a business trip, the sources told Bild.

    Several European countries are currently on high alert following a number of deadly attacks.

    Amid this climate, several airlines in the United States and Europe have recently removed innocent passengers of Middle Eastern or Asian descent from planes on unfounded allegations by fellow passengers, leading to claims of racial discrimination.


    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies


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