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Bomb threat diverts Moscow-bound plane to Iceland

A Russian passenger jet flying from New York to Moscow made an emergency landing at Iceland's main international airport after an anonymous bomb threat was received by US agencies. No explosives were found.

The plane from Russian carrier Aeroflot was diverted to Iceland's Keflavik International Airport after US law enforcement agencies were told five suitcases packed with explosives were believed to be on board and were supposed to detonate upon landing in Moscow, Russian news agency Interfax reported.

"There was an anonymous call saying that there was an explosive device on the plane, which was already in the air," Aeroflot spokesperson Irina Dannenberg said. "The pilot took the decision to land the plane and it landed safely. A search is being conducted."

Dannenberg said the A-330 plane, which left from New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport, had 256 people on board. The passengers were evacuated and officials spent hours inspecting baggage and passengers.

'No explosives found'

Officials later said no explosives were found after police reported they did not find anything suspicious. According to police spokesperson Vidir Reinisson, the atmosphere during the search was calm, although passengers were offered counselling. Reinisson said that a replacement flight from Aeroflot was due later Thursday to take the affected passengers to Moscow.

The bomb threat was made early in the morning around 5:30 a.m. GMT and the plane landed safely at 6:27 a.m., said Keflavik International Airport spokesperson Fridthor Eydal.

The plane was parked at a secure area of the airport, with other flights operating normally.

Emergency teams also searched an airplane in the Russian city of Voronezh on Thursday, 500 km (300 miles) south of Moscow, for explosives after an anonymous phone call was made to the city's airport, but no bomb was found, the state-run RIA Novosti news agency reported.

In January 2011, a suicide bomb blast at Moscow's Domodedovo airport killed 37 people. Islamist insurgents in Russia's volatile North Caucasus claimed responsibility.

In August 2004, suicide bombers identified as women from the North Caucasus simultaneously blew up two planes on domestic Russian routes, killing all 90 people aboard.

hc, bm/slk (AFP, dpa, Reuters)