A reported hijack of an Indian plane Wednesday night on a domestic flight from Bombay to New Delhi was a false alarm caused by an anonymous phone call and confusion aboard the aircraft, the government said.
All passengers have left the plane, Indian Civil Aviation Minister Shahnawaz Hussain said on Thursday.
The Alliance Air Boeing 737, with 52 people on board, was reported by air traffic controllers to have been hijacked on a late evening flight. On landing in the Indian capital, it was immediately surrounded by commandos at Indira Gandhi International Airport.
Hussain, called to an emergency meeting with top ministers to discuss the incident, said the scare was a result of confusion between air traffic controllers (ATC) in the town of Ahmedabad and the pilots.
"It was a false alarm. The confusion arose between ATC Ahmedabad and the pilots," Hussain told reporters, adding that all passengers had left the plane safely.
"It was not a mock exercise or a planned exercise. We had assumed that the plane had been hijacked and the Prime Minister was also awake and was being informed," he said.
An anonymous phone call to an air traffic control station set off the chain of events, Civil Aviation Minister Shahnawaz Hussain told reporters.
He said the pilot, Capt. Ashwini Behl, 33, was told about the phone call, and sealed his cockpit door. The pilot thought the hijackers were among the passengers, he said.
The passengers thought the hijackers were in the cockpit, he said.
There was also confusion, Hussain said, because one of the passengers did try to enter the cockpit, saying he was some sort of official. But he did not have proper identification.
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