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Bomb Threat Sends U.S.-Bound Jet to Iceland

January 20, 2002|From Associated Press

LONDON — A passenger jet flying from Britain to Florida with 340 people on board was diverted to Iceland on Saturday after the crew found a bomb threat and anti-American messages scrawled with soap on a bathroom mirror.

A spokesman for Virgin Atlantic Airways said the threat seemed to be fake. "We believe this is the work of a hoaxer. It is a shame that people are being disrupted," Ben Hall said.

The Boeing 747 landed safely at Keflavik airport, 30 miles southwest of the capital, Reykjavik, about six hours after it took off from London's Gatwick airport for Orlando, officials said. It had 322 passengers and 18 crew members.

Keflavik Police Commissioner Johann Benediktsson said the threat "contained the phrase 'all Americans must die' and other anti-American sentiment."

The passengers were being kept overnight for questioning in an attempt to find the author of the message.

Fridthor Eydal, spokesman for a nearby U.S. naval base, said hand luggage and passengers would be searched.

Hall said the travelers would stay in a hotel and leave this morning.

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