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2 men charged after flight from Pakistan diverted in UK airspace

By Laura Smith-Spark. Shaan Khan and Nic Robertson, CNN
May 27, 2013 -- Updated 1256 GMT (2056 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • An altercation on board caused a plane from Pakistan to the UK to be diverted
  • Two passengers "threatened to blow up the plane," Pakistan's high commissioner says
  • Two men were arrested and removed from the diverted aircraft, Essex police say
  • The Pakistan International Airlines flight to Manchester was diverted to Stansted

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London (CNN) -- Two men have been charged with endangering an aircraft, police in Britain said Sunday. An altercation they were allegedly involved in caused a flight from Pakistan to the UK to be diverted Friday.

A UK fighter jet was scrambled to escort Pakistan International Airlines Flight PK709 as it was diverted from northwestern England's Manchester Airport to Stansted airport near London.

Essex police, who cover the area near Stansted, said officers arrested Tayyab Subhani, 30, and Mohammed Safdar, 41, and removed them from the plane, which had 297 passengers aboard. The flight originated in Lahore.

The men are to appear in court Monday.

Pakistan flight escorted by fighter jets

Wajid Hasan, Pakistan's high commissioner to the United Kingdom, told CNN that the two passengers "got into an altercation with air stewardesses and threatened to blow up the plane."

The flight attendants contacted the pilot, who contacted UK air traffic control authorities, who then scrambled the fighter jet, he said.

The plane later continued on to Manchester from Stansted after all the passengers and cargo were screened, a process that took about four hours, according to the high commissioner's office.

Passengers arriving at Stansted told CNN they were delayed by what several called a "terrorist scare." Police have not mentioned terrorism in connection with the incident.

Runways reopen after emergency landing at London Heathrow Airport

CNN's Laura Smith-Spark wrote and reported in London, where Nic Robertson also reported, and Shaan Khan reported in Islamabad. CNN's Aliza Kassim, Claudia Rebaza, Per Nyberg, and Bharati Naik contributed to this report.

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