False bomb threat against China Airlines cargo flight temporarily closes Alaska airport

ANCHORAGE, ALASKA (REUTERS) – The Anchorage airport, Alaska’s largest, temporarily shut on Saturday (May 2) to inbound traffic because of a bomb threat against a China Airlines cargo flight bound for Taiwan.

The cargo plane diverted to Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport early in the morning after leaving Seattle, airport officials said. No bomb was found and the airport was reopened shortly before noon, officials said.

The plane was searched in a secure, remote section of the airport, the airport said in a statement, with the Federal Bureau of Investigations and Anchorage Police Department.

“After extensive investigation, no explosive device was located,” the airport’s police and fire department said in a statement. “Investigation at the airport has been completed, however, the investigation into the source of the threat continues. The FBI does not believe there is any continuing threat to our community as a result of this incident.”

The Anchorage Daily News said the plane was headed to Taipei, Taiwan and the threat had been called into the Port of Seattle, quoting an FBI spokesman who said investigators were still trying to determine the source of the threat.

China Airlines, Taiwan’s largest carrier, said in a statement the flight had already taken off for Taipei when it was informed of the threat by Seattle airport. The plane was then diverted to Anchorage.

The crew were taken to a hotel to rest while police searched the aircraft and determined nothing unusual, it added.

The aircraft is expected to land in Taipei late Sunday evening, China Airlines said.

Anchorage Airport is one of the world’s top five air-cargo hubs. It ranks second in the nation for weight of landed cargo. It ranks 58th in passenger travel among US airports.

While passenger flights have been sharply curtailed during the coronavirus pandemic, air cargo operations are considered by the state to be essential and have continued.

Flights that could not land in Anchorage on Saturday morning were advised to consider diverting to the airport in Fairbanks, another cargo hub.

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