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‘Turn back or it will be shot down’: Vietnam Airlines flight threatened

By Doan Loan   January 5, 2022 | 06:06 am PT
‘Turn back or it will be shot down’: Vietnam Airlines flight threatened
A satellite photo of Vietnam Airlines Flight VN5311 landing at Fukuoka Airport after being diverted by a shoot down threat as it flew to Hanoi, January 5, 2022. Photo courtesy of FlightRadar
A Vietnam Airlines aircraft flying from Japan’s Narita airport to Hanoi was diverted to another Japanese airport after a caller threatened that it would be shot down over Tokyo Bay.

At 11.10 a.m., about 40 minutes after the flight had taken off with 47 passengers, three pilots and 12 attendants on board, the airlines’ office in Japan received a call from a man who spoke Japanese but claimed to be American.

"Flight VN5311 had better turn back to Narita or it will be shot down when passing Tokyo Bay," the anonymous caller threatened.

When the call receiver asked the man to repeat the message, he said: "I am preparing to shoot VN5311 when it flies above Tokyo Bay. It had better turn around."

The Japan office called Vietnam Airlines’ headquarters in Hanoi, which then reported the call to Japanese authorities, the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) and an agency of the Ministry of Public Security.

The airline also called an urgent meeting of its emergency and anti-terrorism task force. With permission from Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh and Minister of Transport Nguyen Van The, the CAAV directed Vietnam Airlines to ask for Japanese authorities’ permission to land the aircraft at Fukuoka Airport.

The aircraft landed at Fukuoka safely at 1.02 p.m.

Japanese authorities visited the airport and spoke to the flight crew and passengers to evaluate the situation.

After finding no unusual signs and deeming it safe to proceed, VN5311 was allowed to depart Fukuoka for Hanoi. The aircraft landed in Hanoi at 6:12 p.m. (Hanoi time).

VN5311 was the first regular flight between Vietnam and Japan after a hiatus of almost two years because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

 
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