The Lookout

Diverted US Airways flight lands in Charlotte; passenger claimed to have surgically implanted device

Dylan Stableford, Yahoo News
The Lookout

A flight from Paris bound for Charlotte, N.C., was diverted to Maine on Tuesday after a passenger claimed to have a device surgically implanted inside her, sparking security concerns.

The woman, a French citizen whose name has not been released, was arrested after the plane landed in Bangor, Maine. Law enforcement officials conducted a search of the plane, concluding there were no explosives on board. According to US Airways, the flight left Bangor and arrived in Charlotte at 5:37 p.m. ET.

US Airways flight 787—which left Paris' Charles de Gaulle Airport shortly after 11 a.m. local time en route to Charlotte Douglas International—was rerouted to Bangor. The Boeing 767 was carrying 179 passengers and a crew of nine, a spokesman for the airline said, confirming that there had been an unspecified "security issue."

A Homeland Security official told NBC News that the flight was diverted because a "passenger was acting suspiciously."

According to CNN, a French woman on the flight handed a note to a flight attendant, claiming that she had a surgically implanted device inside her.

Two F-15 fighter jets were scrambled from Barnes Air National Guard Base in Westfield, Mass., to intercept the flight over Canada, NORAD said. The plane landed safely in Bangor.

Doctors aboard the flight examined the woman and "saw no sign of recent scars," according to House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King's office.

The woman, a French citizen from Cameroon, had planned a 10-day visit to the United States, King's office added. She was traveling alone and had no checked baggage.

"[We are] aware of reports of a passenger who exhibited suspicious behavior during flight," the TSA said in a statement. "Out of an abundance of caution the flight was diverted to BGR where it was met by law enforcement."

According to one of the passengers, the flight crew announced that they needed to land in Bangor because "uncharacteristically strong headwinds" required the plane to refuel. Once the plane landed there, the pilot apologized to passengers, saying the TSA ordered him to lie to them.

Passengers were also told to keep their window shades down during a movie, so they did not see that fighter jets has been sent to escort the flight,  Stuart Frankel from Baltimore told the Associated Press. He also said there were a few calls for doctors on the flight, but that did not alarm anyone.

"We saw lots of police and federal customs people take a woman off the plane in handcuffs," Frankel said. "People were amazed at what was going on. We didn't know what was happening until we landed."

Several passengers said they did notice the woman because she kept walking up and down the aisle during the flight. They said she also stood out because of her slight stature and big eyelashes, according to the AP.

The FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Force is assisting with the investigation, but officials told the network they did not believe it was a terrorist threat.

Airlines have been on heightened alert since last fall, when the Dept. of Homeland Security and FBI warned of new terrorist plots involving surgically implanted bombs.

It's not the first time a flight from Paris has been diverted to Bangor. In 2010, a Delta flight from Paris to Atlanta was diverted to Bangor after a man claimed to be carrying dynamite in his luggage. The man, Derek Stansberry, a 26-year-old Air Force veteran from Florida, was later found not guilty by reason of insanity.

Just last week, a US Airways flight from Maine to Philadelphia was interrupted when a man allegedly tried to enter the cockpit. That flight was diverted to Boston, and the man was arrested.

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