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Bomb joke at Bicol Airport affects several flights

Bomb joke
The location where the note that says 'bomb' was found. (JERRY S. TAN)

A number of flights from Bicol International Airport (BIA) to Manila were affected due to a bomb joke.

Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) spokesman Eric Apolonio said the incident involved Cebu Pacific Airlines Flight 5J 326 scheduled to depart at 10:45 a.m. on Monday, which reported that a note with the word ‘bomb’ on it was found with tissue rolls inside the lavatory of the said departing aircraft.

Following its request for security assistance, the runway at BIA was temporarily closed as a precautionary measure, while passengers were safely deplaned and directed to proceed to the Arrival Area for security inspection.

CAAP Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS) personnel, along with Aviation Security Canine (K-9) Bomb Disposal units and PNP-AVSEU personnel, conducted screening of passengers’ luggage and hand-carried items for paneling.

Bicol International Airport Manager Roland Bocito and Area Center 5 Manager Cynthia Tumanut said a total of ten Cebu Pacific flights, five arriving and five departing, were delayed.

The PAL flights also affected by the incident were PR 2915 (Manila-BIA) and PR 2916 (BIA-Manila). PAL advised their affected passengers to wait for further announcements.

As all other passengers were deplaned and the aircraft was relocated to the Isolated Aircraft Parking Position (mid-runway, fronting the Terminal Building), where all checked-in baggage and hand-carried items underwent re-screening as part of enhanced security measures.

Apolonio said that effective 1:35 p.m. of the same day, normal airport operations resumed at the Bicol International Airport (BIA) after runway sweeping was done by CAAP Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighters (ARFF).

Meanwhile, the Cebu Pacific aircraft involved was back to Parking Bay No. 2 for processing of passengers boarding.

As investigations are still ongoing, CAAP, in coordination with the PNP-AVSEU, is working closely to find out more information regarding the incident, Apolonio said.

Itchie G. Cabayan
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