A Virgin Australia plane prepares for take-off in Sydney. -AFP filepic
SYDNEY: Passengers on an Australian domestic flight left the plane via an emergency exit Tuesday after a man allegedly left a threatening note in the toilet in what appears to be a prank.
The 42 passengers on the Virgin Australia service from Sydney to the rural town of Albury in southeastern Australia were ordered out of the window exit onto the tarmac.
“Albury police received information that a note was located on an item in the toilets of an aircraft en route to Albury,” police said in a statement.
“About 9.30am the aircraft landed and police boarded the plane and immediately evacuated the passengers.”
Police did not say what was written on the note but said it was not terrorism-related.
A 30-year-old man was charged with threatening the lives of passengers with false information.
“There was no terrorism involved at all,” a New South Wales police spokesman told AFP. Nerves are frayed in Australia after a terror-related siege in Melbourne on Monday.
“I think it was just something silly that he did and there was no real intention there.
“The police managed to get all the passengers out and arrest the guy within five minutes of the plane landing.”
He was granted conditional bail and is due to appear in court next month.
Sydney retiree Wendy Willett, who was sitting opposite the man, described the ordeal as “terrifying” with a flight attendant shouting “Evacuate, evacuate! Leave all your belongings, jump out the window.”
“It was really scary, I was worried I wouldn’t be able to jump, but they said the police would help and catch us, which they did,” she told the Sydney Daily Telegraph.
On Monday police shot dead a man after he killed another man and took a women hostage in a Melbourne siege incident being treated as terror-related.
In an incident last week, security forces stormed a grounded Malaysia Airlines flight at Melbourne airport when a man tried to enter the cockpit claiming he had a bomb.
A Sri Lankan student, who had just been released from psychiatric care, was arrested after several passengers overpowered him mid-flight. -AFP