Japan arrests teenager threatening to shoot down Vietnam Airlines flight

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By Minh Minh February 17, 2022 | 01:05 PT

A Boeing 787 lands at Fukuoka Airport for a security check after the flight received a shooting threat, January 5, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Xuan Hoa

A 17-year-old boy from Japan’s Yamagata prefecture was arrested for allegedly threatening to shoot down an airliner from Tokyo to Hanoi last month.

According to Chiba Prefectural Police, the boy was found after police tracked down his phone number and arrested him on Tuesday.

They said the boy admitted to making the phone call and was mentally disabled, Japanese media reported.

The Vietnam Airlines flight from Tokyo to Hanoi on January 5 had to turn back following a threat of shooting from a person claiming to be American and speaking Japanese.

The person called the airline’s office in Japan and said, “Flight VN5311 better turn back to Narita or it will be shot down flying over Tokyo Bay.”

By the time the threat was made, the plane, a Boeing 787, had already passed Tokyo Bay. There were 47 passengers and 15 crew members on board.

After discussions with Japanese authorities, the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) let the plane turn around and land at Fukuoka Airport for a security check.

The airport then asked security and technical staff to review flight information and security.

Japanese officials visited the airport and spoke to flight crew and passengers to assess the situation. After finding no unusual signs and deeming it safe to continue, the flight was cleared to depart Fukuoka for Hanoi, where it landed at 6:12 p.m.

Passengers were informed that the plane had “technical problems”. All arrived safely in Hanoi and learned nothing of the threat until landing.

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