The Jakarta Post * Passengers evacuated after bomb hoax

 

 

 

 

 

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The Jakarta Post


The Jakarta Post, September 04, 2004

Passengers evacuated after bomb hoax

Mikael Onny Setiawan, The Jakarta Post, Balikpapan

Security authorities had to search more than 150 passengers for explosives after a Lion Air officer at the Balikpapan airport in East Kalimantan received a bomb threat from a caller on Friday morning.

The caller told the officer, Hidayat, that there was a bomb planted on the Lion Air flight from Jakarta to Balikpapan, which could explode anytime.

The threat was relayed to security officials as the plane, carrying 151 passengers including four children, was about 15 minutes away from Sepinggan International Airport in Balikpapan, at around 10:15 a.m.

However, the passengers were calm on their arrival as airport security officers did not notify them about the bomb threat, while rapidly evacuating them from plane.

Bomb squad and rapid reaction force officers from the Balikpapan police, several ambulances, a fire brigade and a platoon of Air Force troops later surrounded the airport as a precautionary measure.

They combed the plane that was parked in an isolated area at the northern tip of the runway, but found nothing suspicious on board, while all the passengers were thoroughly checked in a special room within the airport.

The officers also examined all luggage. A few hours later the plane was declared safe.

Hidayat said he received the phone call at 9:58 a.m. and passed on the message to Adj. Comr. Siregar, a police officer with the airport security task force.

Siregar said the caller only identified himself by the name Syamsuddin and claimed to be a member of the Indonesian Terrorist Network. Based on a preliminary investigation, he made the phone call from the Karang Rejo area in Balikpapan, Siregar added.

I.B.G. Winaya, the head of airport management company PT Angkasa Pura's Balikpapan branch, announced to the public that the incident was handled according to security procedures.

"During the process, all the passengers were in good shape and looked calm. All of them are safe," said Winaya accompanied by Balikpapan military commander Lt. Col. Donald Sitorus.

Balikpapan Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Hadi Purnomo, who was also at the scene, said his office would continue investigating the case to find the caller.

"Even though the bomb threat was merely a hoax, we will take tighter measures for everybody's safety following the incident," he said.

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