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Aussies jump off plane after bomb scare

June 6, 2017

Passengers leaped to the tarmac at a regional Australian airport, and at least one person has been arrested in an apparent bomb hoax. The panic apparently started with a single word scrawled on a sick bag.

Fluggesellschaft Virgin - Boeing 737-800
Image: picture alliance/P. Mayall

In what has been an eventful June for Australian aviation, a single-word note found near an airplane toilet caused quite a commotion at a rural regional airport in Albury, southern New South Wales, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports.

Passenger Wendy Willett told the broadcaster that she had not known of any security concerns until police surrounded the 68-seat ATR 72 operated by Virgin Australia after it touched down. "The minute we came to a halt, they started yelling: 'Evacuate, evacuate,'" she said.

"Leave your luggage," another passenger heard someone shout, according to the Australian Associated Press news agency. "Get out and run, run, run."

The more panicked of the twin-engine turboprop's 42 passengers jumped to the tarmac rather than await a more orderly disembarkation. The rest were evacuated by police.

'Nothing in it'

Police said they arrested a 30-year-old after the plane landed. They declined to confirm whether it had been set off by the word "bomb" scrawled on a sick bag, but said a note had been written.

"Nothing was found," a police spokeswoman told the Reuters news agency on Tuesday. "There was no actual threat to anybody, just a note, so there was nothing in it."

Tuesday's less-serious incident follows a deadly siege in the southern city of Melbourne on Monday that Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said police would treat as an "act of terrorism" after the so-called "Islamic State" group claimed responsibility.

mkg/rc (Reuters, AP)