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What we know about the false bomb threat on Singapore Airlines flight SQ33

What we know about the false bomb threat on Singapore Airlines flight SQ33

The flight path of SQ33 on Sep 28, 2022, as it neared Singapore. (Image: Flightradar24)

SINGAPORE: On Wednesday (Sep 28), the Singapore Police Force (SPF) was informed of a bomb threat on board Singapore Airlines flight SQ33, travelling from San Francisco to Singapore.

A passenger was reported to have assaulted a cabin crew member, claiming he had a bomb in his carry-on bag. He was restrained and the plane was escorted by the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) fighter jets to Changi Airport, where it landed safely.

The threat was subsequently verified to be false and investigations are ongoing.

Here's a timeline of what happened:

Sep 26, 10.05pm (Pacific Daylight Time)/Sep 27, 1.05pm (Singapore time)

Flight SQ33 takes off from San Francisco at 10.05pm on Monday, beginning its 16-hour flight to Singapore.

The Airbus A350-941 that SIA uses on this route has a capacity of 253 passengers.

Sep 28, 2.40am (Singapore time)

More than 12 hours after take-off, the Singapore police are alerted to an alleged bomb threat on board the flight.

According to Singapore Airlines, an "unruly" passenger allegedly hit a cabin crew member. 

The 37-year-old passenger also allegedly claimed there was a bomb in a carry-on bag. He is restrained by the crew, said police.

Sep 28, 4.30am

According to Flightradar24 data, the plane begins its descent while circling over the South China Sea, making three loops before continuing its route, Flightradar24 shows. It goes from an altitude of about 40,000 feet (12,192m) to about 10,175 feet (3,101m).

Sep 28, 5.42am

The plane circles over Batam Island, flying to about 1,800 feet (548.64m) before making its descent towards Singapore.

Sep 28, 5.51am

The plane lands safely at Changi Airport under the escort of RSAF F16C/D fighter jets. 

The aircraft is taxied to a remote bay on arrival at Changi Airport for security checks and the passenger is handed over to the police.

Teams from The Singapore Army’s Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Explosives Defence Group and the Airport Police Division look into the claims. The threat is subsequently verified to be false.

The man is arrested for making false threats of terrorist acts and for suspected consumption of controlled drugs.

The aircraft is towed to Changi Airport Terminal 3 after the security checks are completed.

Sep 28, 9.20am

All passengers and crew disembark.

Sep 29

The man is charged with an offence of using threatening words likely to cause alarm, as well as an offence of voluntarily causing hurt. 

Preliminary investigations showed that he had allegedly shouted that there was a bomb on the plane during the flight. He also grabbed another passenger's luggage from the cabin's overhead compartment and assaulted a member of the cabin crew who tried to intervene and restrain him.

The man's urine also tested positive for controlled drugs, according to investigations by the Central Narcotics Bureau.

Source: CNA/ic(mi)
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