Passengers evacuated following bomb threat on Aeroflot plane in Seychelles
The airline offers direct flights between Seychelles and Moscow twice a week. (Tourism Seychelles)
Operations at Seychelles International Airport are back to normal after they were ceased temporarily on Saturday morning following an alleged bomb threat on an Aeroflot direct flight from Moscow.
The Commissioner of Police, Ted Barbe, told reporters that the alleged threat was received through an email that arrived at 8.42 a.m stating "there was a bomb wired on the plane. So far, we have not been able to identify the address or the person behind the email."
Barbe said that immediately the Emergency Operation Centre was put in place to coordinate operations with the police in command in collaboration with the Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority.
The Commissioner said that an initial search was done by the crew members of the airline and then everyone onboard disembarked as the priority was saving lives if there really was a threat.
There were 19 crew members and 246 passengers onboard the flight.
"When this was done all necessary units went onboard and did the necessary to search the plane.[...] After that, the plane was towed to bay number two. So far the search team has not found anything that indicates that there is a bomb on the plane," he added.
|A press conference was held to give an update. (from right) Russian Ambassador Artyom Kozhin, President Wavel Ramkalawan, Commissioner Ted Barbe and SCAA's general manager, David Labrosse. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY|
Russia's national carrier, Aeroflot, resumed its direct flight services to Seychelles on Saturday, October 8, 2022. The airline offers direct flights between Seychelles and Moscow twice a week.
As a result of the threat, flights from two airlines were affected.
"The only planes affected were Air Seychelles going to Jo'burg and Turkish Airlines, which we had to divert because the search was not completed on the plane when it was scheduled to land. This is a normal procedure to ensure that the safety of the passengers and the crew are taken as priority number one," said the general manager for safety and security regulations for SCAA, David Labrosse.
He added that "some domestic flights were able to leave but for international flights before we reopen we had to be sure that nothing has been found during the search that would have aggravated the situation."
The President of Seychelles, Wavel Ramkalawan, congratulated the SCAA and the police for the way they handled the situation.
"There was no panic and everything worked in order. Together with the Russian Ambassador, I was able to meet the passengers. [...] These things happen every day in the world so there is nothing for us to worry about. The airport in a very short delay was reopened," he said.
Ramkalawan added that this showed that Seychelles is ready to handle such situations.
On his side, the Russian Ambassador to Seychelles, Artyom Kozhin, said, "We have seen how our Seychellois colleagues took the situation seriously. I am also grateful that together with the President, I was able to meet with the passengers. The passengers were ok but a bit nervous so the President was able to boost their morale."
Kozhin said he hopes that such situations will never occur but this is more proof that the dialogue between the relevant authorities has to continue.