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Man sectioned after mid-air bomb hoax that diverted planes to Leeds

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A MAN arrested after a suspected bomb hoax on a Manchester-bound flight has been sectioned under the Mental Health Act, police said today.

The mid-air drama caused some other Manchester flights to be diverted to Leeds Bradford Airport on Tuesday afternoon.

A 47-year-old from the North West was arrested by armed officers who greeted flight QR23 from Doha, Qatar, when it arrived at Manchester, escorted by an RAF Typhoon jet.

Greater Manchester Police said today that he had been sectioned.

A spokesman said: “Following his arrest he was assessed by medical staff and again by a mental health team.

“He was subsequently sectioned to allow for a fuller assessment and appropriate treatment.”

The alert was sparked by fears of “a possible device on board” but Greater Manchester Police pronounced the Airbus A330-300 clear after searching it.

Some of the 269 passengers on board the flight from the Gulf described seeing the fighter from RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire come close to the civilian aircraft as it flew towards Manchester, with pictures and video posted online.

One of them was Josh Hartley, who said he spotted the RAF Typhoon outside the window of the passenger plane after they had circled several times.

Mr Hartley told BBC Breakfast: “We were coming in to land (and) about eight minutes, 10 minutes before we landed, a fighter jet came alongside. I looked out the window, then I just started shaking - (it was) a bit terrifying seeing a fighter jet outside the window.”

He said passengers had not been given information about what was happening by the 13-strong crew of the Qatari plane, who even gave them the standard weather update before they touched down.

Instead they said they found out there had been a bomb scare from news websites and Twitter.

His friend Matt Cox, who was asleep in his seat until the aircraft landed, told the broadcaster: “We didn’t get told anything about the nature of what was happening at any point

“It’s not nice finding things out from Twitter rather than the people who are supposed to be in charge of you. Obviously we know why they did it.”

Passengers said two armed police arrested the suspect, who was ordered to put his hands on his head before being led away.

Manchester Airport said nine incoming flights had to be diverted to other airports, with five of these landing at Leeds Bradford Airport.

One of the flights that landed on time at Manchester once the emergency was over was the plane carrying Manchester United back from Florida, where the team had been engaged in a pre-season friendly tournament.

 

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