Canadian fighter jets intercept Chinese airliner

VANCOUVER (AP) - Canadian fighter jets escorted a Cathay Pacific airliner incoming from Hong Kong to a safe landing in Vancouver International Airport on Saturday due to a potential unspecified security threat, a North American Aerospace Defense Command spokesperson said.

The Canadian Press news agency cited Canadian Defense department officials as saying there was a bomb threat aboard Flight CX838, but they could not provide details. Television images showed the plane on an isolated stretch of tarmac, where it had been towed away from the main airport terminal.

A staircase was rolled up to a lone door open at the front of the aircraft. One or two people were seen going up and down the stairway, but it did not immediately appear that the passengers were taken off. Fire crews stood by as airport security officials assessed the situation. Canadian F-18 Hornet fighter jets intercepted the plane and flew alongside it until it landed around 1:40 local time.

"As a precaution, NORAD fighters escorted the aircraft until it landed safely in Vancouver," said North American Aerospace Defense Command's Maj. Holly Apostoliuk. Apostoliuk said the jets responded quickly from their base in Comox, British Columbia, once information on a potential threat was received.

They did not land with the airliner, and returned to their base. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Vancouver airport authorities did not immediately return calls.

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