A packet containing a firecracker was recovered from the rear cargo hold area of an aircraft that arrived at the international airport here from Bangalore on Sunday, sending security officials into a tizzy.
The firecracker, weighing 10 to 15 gm., was found wrapped in a Malayalam newspaper and bound with a string. It was detected by airline security officials during a routine check after the baggage was offloaded from the Kingfisher (KF 4731) aircraft. The flight with 27 passengers on board had arrived at 8 a.m.
The Bomb Detection and Disposal Squad took it to a cooling pit and made sure it was harmless. The aircraft was taken to an isolated bay and subjected to a thorough security check by airline, airport and security officials. It was released around 3 p.m. after mandatory checks as per procedures, and left for Bangalore by 3.45 p.m.
Police officials said the firecracker might have been placed inside the aircraft at the originating point (Bangalore), possibly by the loaders who had access to the cargo hold.
City Police Commissioner M.R. Ajith Kumar and Deputy Commissioner (Administration) Jolly Cherian are leaving for Bangalore for further investigation.
Meanwhile, airport sources said security was beefed up in view of the incident. A review meeting is to be held on Monday. The city police also questioned the loaders engaged by the private agency that is handling the cargo of the airline.
K.V. Subramanya/Raghava M. report from Chikkaballapur/Bangalore:
The Central Industrial Security Force, responsible for security at the Bangalore International Airport (BIA), has initiated investigations into how the packet containing the firecracker reached the aircraft.
CISF commandant-in-charge of the BIA Digvijay Singh told The Hindu that the packet “looks like [a] firecracker wrapped in a newspaper.” As it was not connected to any detonator, the metal detector could have missed the object during the screening, he said.
Mr. Singh said the object could have reached the aircraft through the cargo hole or some passenger could have carried it in his personal baggage and the object could have slipped out and fallen in the aircraft.
Meanwhile, Bangalore Police Commissioner Shankar M. Bidari said as the aircraft was on a regular flight between Bangalore and Thiruvananthapuram, it was not sure when the explosive material entered the rear baggage hold. “The Kerala police are investigating the case. We will provide all possible assistance to our counterparts,” Mr. Bidari said.