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Xinhua Insight: Bomb hoaxes alert China to aviation threat

English.news.cn   2012-09-02 21:12:48            

by Xinhua writers Hu Tao and Li Pengxiang

WUHAN, Sept. 2 (Xinhua) -- Two airline bombing threats in China within a week have stirred concern over public education and management of aviation safety.

On Sunday morning, a Chinese man whose hoax bomb warning caused the diversion of a domestic flight on Thursday was escorted by police from Guangdong to a detention center in central China's Hubei province.

Xiong Yi, a 29-year-old male resident of Shiyan City in Hubei, made an anonymous phone call to an airport in Shenzhen, Guangdong, at 10:43 p.m. on Thursday, claiming that explosives had been planted on Shenzhen Airlines Flight ZH9706, according to police.

The plane was in mid-air, bound for Shenzhen from Xiangyang in Hubei. It made an emergency landing at an airport in Wuhan at 11:24 p.m. out of concerns for passenger safety. Police conducted a thorough inspection but found no dangerous items on the aircraft or in passengers' belongings.

Xiong was caught Saturday afternoon in a hotel in the southern province of Guangdong and confessed to police he'd fabricated the information.

Police have yet to reveal Xiong's motives as the investigation is still going on.

The case follows a similar incident to hit China's civil aviation industry earlier in the week.

An Air China flight from Beijing to New York returned to Beijing Capital International Airport after a threatening message concerning the flight was received on Wednesday evening.

No abnormalities were detected on the plane, which departed for New York hours later.

PANIC, LOSSES CAUSED

Xiong's deeds endangered public security and caused serious consequences, which wasted a lot of social resources and caused losses to passengers, airlines and airports, said Chen Yong, one of the team leaders investigating Xiong's case.

"More seriously, his threat has aroused panic and anxiety among the public about aviation safety, as well as disturbed social order," said Chen.

The airport and Shenzhen Airlines are calculating the financial losses caused by the incident. As an emergency response, more than 30 vehicles and 200 people including public security officers, firefighters, medical staff, flight managers and armed police were mobilized to deal with the incident Thursday night.

"It was quite an unexpected experience for me, with the announcement of the 'possibility of explosives on the plane'," said Peng Ruojie, a passenger on the ZH9706 flight, on Sina Weibo, China's equivalent of Twitter.

"All the passengers got off the plane. We were surrounded. The security check was super-careful, with each piece of clothing checked," he wrote.

EDUCATION URGED

In fact, China has seen a rising number of "pranks to threaten the aviation safety" in various forms, such as phone calls, messages or even jokes in recent years.

A 18-year-old man surnamed Pu hoaxed the Shanghai Pudong International Airport on April 27 about a "bomb onboard" just to imitate the plot of a game, delaying many flights.

Some of China's recent plane-bomb threats have come from people who did not realize the seriousness of their law-breaking, while some other cases have come from those people in some way seeking revenge on society, according to Feng Guilin, a researcher with the Hubei Provincial Academy of Social Sciences.

The incidents have sparked aviation management authorities into life to strengthen the law publicity and education to make the public aware of the seriousness of hoaxes, said Huang Wenbao, safety manager with the Hubei Airports Group Company.

While Huang said the cases have warned them to be alert and deal efficiently with threatening information, he added ominously that "if there were dozens of messages flooding in in one day, the civil aviation system might collapse.

"In that case, we should further increase our abilities to review information for more accurate and valuable clues, and better, more coordinated emergency responses are also needed in China."

Editor: Chen Zhi
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