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article imageRAF fighters escort JFK bound Egyptian flight in terror alert

By Robert Myles     Jun 16, 2013 in World
Prestwick - Prestwick Airport, 30 miles south of Glasgow, Scotland, was the scene of a major terror alert yesterday when an Egyptian airliner carrying 326 passengers, bound from Cairo, Egypt to New York’s JFK airport landed after an escort by RAF fighters.
RAF Typhoon fighters had been scrambled from their base at RAF Leuchars in Fife, Scotland when a passenger found a hand-written note in the toilet compartment of the Boeing 777 Flight 985. The passenger, Nasa Tafik, had gone to change her young daughter when she found a note which read: “I'll set this plane on fire”, reports the Daily Mail.
A ‘very scary’ note
Egyptian-born Ms.Tafik, who works for the BBC in New York, immediately alerted cabin crew, following which a full blown terror alert unfolded in the skies over the UK. Ms. Tafik told BBC News that the note appeared to have been written in pencil on a napkin.
She said, "When I went in to change my daughter about three hours into the flight, I found a note by the sink saying 'I set this plane on fire' with the seat number 46D written on it, so I immediately went to the crew and told them about it. It was on a hand napkin written in pencil and the pencil was actually still there so I told the crew to make sure to keep it so they can get any fingerprints off it. They locked the bathroom immediately so that no one could go into it. It almost looked like a child's handwriting or someone who has very sloppy handwriting, but it was very alarming, especially these days when everyone is so concerned about safety on flights. I said to one of the stewards, 'I don't know if this is a prank.' They said no, it can't be a prank. Either someone has a very bad sense of humour or, you know, it's very scary."
After landing at Prestwick Airport around 2.30 p.m. yesterday, the aircraft taxied to a quiet part of the airport well away from the terminal building. Prestwick Airport, sometimes regarded as Glasgow’s second airport, is a designated airport for handling this type of terror emergency. Heavy police numbers including anti-terrorist officers from Police Scotland immediately surrounded the aircraft on the ground. The passengers on board the Egyptair plane had to wait for about six hours before all 326 passengers had been led off the aircraft in small groups to waiting buses, reports The Herald newspaper.
A Police Scotland spokesman confirmed that all passengers were interviewed. The spokesman told the newspaper, "There was no one removed in handcuffs and no one has been detained or arrested and we're continuing our investigation into the note that was found and its origin and motive. .... This note, whatever narrative it contained, we have to treat seriously and maintain the safety of passengers and crew. Whether it is a prank or not, this will be investigated thoroughly to establish the circumstances. We could never write something off as a prank without investigating. The captain took the decision to divert the aircraft and it's now for police to investigate where that note came from and to see if we can identify who put it within the plane and what were the circumstances leading to that."
During the emergency involving the Egyptair flight, other flights in and out of Prestwick Airport, and Scottish airspace, continued to operate normally. Later, the Boeing 777 was checked over by bomb disposal experts.
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