China Turns Back Xinjiang Plane

BBC reports on a confusing incident involving an airplane headed to Xinjiang from Afghanistan:

Chinese state news agency Xinhua reported first that the plane had been hijacked, then that it had been the subject of a bomb threat.

An Afghan diplomat said the plane’s operators had not been told about a threat, just ordered to turn it back.

Xinhua said the plane later landed in Kandahar, quoting diplomatic sources.

China’s state news agency did not give any details of the reported threat to the plane. But it said that armed police and emergency vehicles had rushed to Urumqi airport just in case.

However a press officer for Nato forces in Afghanistan – which control Kandahar airport – told the Associated Press news agency that he had received no report of a plane forced to land.

Al Jazeera provides another explanation for the plane’s failure to land in Urumqi:

China’s official Xinhua news agency on Sunday reported that the aircraft had received a bomb threat, but later reports said the aeroplane had been diverted simply because it lacked the necessary documents.

An Afghan air traffic source and airport police said that the airline had failed to obtain the correct paperwork needed to land.

The KamAir flight departed from Kabul, the Afghan capital, bound for Urumqi, but landed in the southern city of Kandahar after being refused landing in China.

The flight landed in Kandahar rather than Kabul because of high winds in the capital, Afghan sources said.

And, confusing the situation further, a more recent Xinhua report says a mechanical failure may have been the culprit:

The airport official said the plane made the unexpected landing due to some “mechanical problem”.

Meantime, president of Kam Airlines, Zamarai Kamgar, told Xinhua that it is the first flight day for Kam from Kabul to Urumqi and the plane was refused by Kyrgyzstan to pass its territory.

The Boeing-767 plane was carrying more than 200 passengers, including five Chinese.

“The plane chose to land in Kandahar city at first step because weather condition in Kabul was not suitable at that time,” Kamgar added.

[…] Earlier, armed police sources in Xinjiang said the Afghan plane scheduled to Urumqi was bomb threatened.

August 9, 2009 5:58 PM
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Categories: China & the World