Turkish Airlines jet makes emergency landing in New Delhi after written bomb threat found in toilet

A file photo showing an Airbus A340 in Turkish Airlines livery. A Turkish Airlines flight landed in New Delhi on Tuesday, July 7, 2015, after a supposed bomb threat, an Indian security official said.
A file photo showing an Airbus A340 in Turkish Airlines livery. A Turkish Airlines flight landed in New Delhi on Tuesday, July 7, 2015, after a supposed bomb threat, an Indian security official said. PHOTO: AIRBUS

NEW DELHI (REUTERS/AFP) - A Turkish Airlines flight from Bangkok made an emergency landing in New Delhi after a bomb threat was scrawled in lipstick on a bathroom mirror in a toilet on the Airbus A330 passenger jet, the airline and Indian security sources said.

All 148 passengers and crew were immediately evacuated after the plane landed safely in an isolated area at New Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport following the third bomb scare to hit the airline this year.

"Crew saw message on bathroom mirror that bomb in cargo hold... Plane will be inspected for explosives," the airport's chief spokesman Saptarshi Sanyal told AFP by text message.

Mr Mahesh Sharma, the Junior Minister of Civil Aviation, said that bomb disposal squads and national security teams had not found any bomb after scouring the main cabin.

"Inside of the cabin has shown that there is no explosive there. Now we are screening the luggage portion,"

Mr Sharma told the NDTV news network, adding that passengers were now being questioned about the message.

The plane was being examined in an isolated bay at the airport after the crew informed the pilot of a note on the mirror of the plane's washroom reportedly scribbled with lipstick.

"Passengers have been asked to evacuate the plane, the drill is taking place right now," Mr Hemendra Singh, a spokesman for the federal Central Industrial Security Forces, told Reuters.

Turkish Airlines was targeted with a series of hoax bomb warnings in April and again over the weekend. This threat was found about three hours into the flight, a spokesman for the airline said.

In April, a Turkish Airlines passenger plane flying from Istanbul to Basel turned back over Bulgarian air space after the discovery of a written note warning of a bomb on board, which turned out to be false.

A month before that, another one of its flights flying from Istanbul to Brazil made a similar emergency landing in Morocco after the crew found a written note in one of the plane's toilets warning of a bomb.

Indian security forces said they were scouring the plane for signs of explosives. The flight will resume its journey to Istanbul if is given the all clear, the airline spokesman said.

The airliner was over the central Indian city of Nagpur when the pilot sent a message requesting an emergency landing and he was given permission to change course to Delhi, said Mr Rajan Bhagat, spokesman for the Delhi police.

India's crack National Security Guards had been put on alert, Times Now TV said.