Mahan Air Iran bomb scare in Delhi airspace
The Iranian Mahan Air flight was on its way from Tehran to Guangzhou in China (picture: Wikimedia Commons)

IAF rushes jets after bomb scare on Iran plane in Delhi airspace

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A bomb threat was reported from an Iranian plane while in Indian airspace on Monday, resulting in several tense minutes in Delhi. But the “intel” later turned out to be a hoax.

Around 10 am, Delhi Police reportedly received intel about a possible bomb threat on an Airbus A340 aircraft in the capital’s airspace. It was an Iranian Mahan Air flight, on its way from Tehran to Guangzhou in China.

“The pilot, as soon as he learned about the possibility of a bomb in the flight, shared the situation with the control centre,” read a statement by Mahan Air.

Also read: Iran’s supreme leader breaks silence on protests, blames US, Israel

Pilot refused to divert flight

The Air Traffic Control (ATC) did not permit the plane to land in Delhi and diverted it to Jaipur instead. The pilot was reportedly given another option, too—to land in Chandigarh. But the pilot refused to divert the plane, forcing the ATC to sound an alert.

Accordingly, IAF Su-30 MKI fighter jets from Punjab and Jodhpur rushed to intercept the plane. The nature of the bomb threat was unclear.

“They might have had some suspicion about the bomb scare, so we were kept on alert for it. We had positioned our vehicles. We had two fire unit vehicles positioned with assistant regional officers and reinforcements sent as and when required,” Sanjay Tomar, deputy chief fire officer, told ANI.

The flight reportedly remained in the Indian airspace for nearly 40 minutes before it was allowed to leave after clearance from Iranian authorities. “We were given an all-clear message at 10.05 am by security,” said Tomar.

Also read: Indian company banned by US for ‘dealing in Iranian petro products’

IAF jets see plane off

The IAF said the jets continued to follow the passenger jet closely until it left the Indian airspace. “All actions were taken by IAF as per laid down procedure, jointly with the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) & Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS),” the Air Force issued a statement. It added that the aircraft was under “close radar surveillance” till it left Indian airspace.

Mahan Air later tweeted that the report was “fake” and that the flight was safe. “After communication with the operation control centre of Mahan Air, the pilot realised the bomb threat was fake and that the flight was completely safe,” the statement read.

“It seems that the design of such reports in the current international and domestic conditions was proposed in order to disturb the security and peace of mind,” it added.

FlightRadar data showed the plane losing altitude over the Delhi-Jaipur airspace briefly before exiting the Indian airspace. The plane later safely landed in Guangzhou.

(With agency inputs)

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