Britain scrambles fighter jets to escort Ryanair flight after hoax security alarm raised

A Ryanair aircraft at Stansted Airport on Sept 7, 2017. RAF fighter jets escorted a Ryanair flight to Stansted Airport after a suspicious package was found on board, on Oct 4, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON - Britain scrambled two fighter jets to intercept and escort a Ryanair aircraft to London's Stansted Airport on Wednesday (Oct 4) after a suspicious package was found on board, but the alert turned out to be a hoax.

"The RAF can confirm Quick Reaction Alert Typhoon aircraft were launched this morning from RAF Coningsby to intercept a civilian aircraft. The aircraft was safely escorted to Stansted airport," a spokesman for the Royal Air Force said. He added the planes had been "authorised to transit at supersonic speed for operational reasons".

Police said passengers were being safely taken off the plane and Stansted Airport said the runway was briefly closed while the aircraft landed but flights were arriving and departing normally again, reported Reuters.

"This flight from Kaunas to London Luton diverted to London Stansted in line with procedures after Lithuanian authorities received a suspected hoax security alert," Ryanair said in a statement.

Flight 2145 was heading to Luton - about 50km north-west of London - from Kaunas in Lithuania when the alarm was raised, British media said.

Residents on the planes' path reported a sonic boom, with many calling Suffolk Police to report "loud bangs", the newspaper said.

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