Cargo plane headed to Bangkok called back for drug check 45 mins after take-off
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In what is being probed for breach of airport security and smuggling, a cargo flight was called back within 45 minutes of take-off on Saturday night for inspection by the airport customs based on a tip-off that one of the consignments had contraband.
According to the Mumbai International Airport Ltd (MIAL), the flight was headed to Turkey but an official with the airport customs said the consignment was meant for Bangkok.
The cargo jet belonging to logistics firm UPS flew out of the Mumbai airport at 9.30 pm. Soon after take-off, the Mumbai airport customs dispatched a letter requesting the Air Traffic Control to ask the flight, a Boeing 744, to head back to Mumbai airport. The flight landed in Mumbai around 10.15 pm.
According to a source, the flight was called back under Section 106 of the Customs Act under which authorities can only call a flight back if they have reasonable suspicion of smuggling of contraband or for reasons of national security.
"The airport customs tried to stop the take-off based on the information we had, but the UPS people did not respond to the queries. After the flight landed back in Mumbai, the consignment was checked and 10 cricket bats and a Buddha idol, both hollow from inside, were found," the source said.
"The handles of the bats were stuck with an adhesive and it looked like someone had hastily removed the contents. The smugglers probably got wind of the fact that customs officials have information about the consignment. The airport customs have seized the items for investigation," he added.
The investigation will not only pursue the angle of where the consignment was coming from and who it was meant for, but it will also look at whether there was a security lapse. The flight was allowed to take off once again at 1.10 am on Sunday morning.
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