Paul's Journal, May 18, 2002
Bomb threats found in Seattle divert flight to Greenland
Threats made in Seattle
The Associated Press (and Other Sources)
SEATTLE - More than 200 passengers on an international flight to Seattle were diverted yesterday to a Greenland town — population 325 — after two bomb threats against the plane were found in SeaTac.
Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS) Flight 937 took off on time from Copenhagen, Denmark, yesterday. About 4½ hours into the flight, the captain got word of the threats and landed the plane in Sondre Stromfjord, in southwestern Greenland, a self-governing territory of Denmark
One threat was found at a Jack in the Box restaurant near Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, and another in an airport restroom, said Bob Parker, an airport spokesman.
Nothing suspicious was found on the plane, said spokeswoman Laura Brown with the U.S. Transportation Department in Washington, D.C.
"There was a nonspecific threat and so the plane was diverted as a security precaution," she said.
Jack in the Box shift manager Shirad Alsamarrai said the threat at the restaurant was written on a wall in the men's room.
One threat read simply "SAS 937 bomb," said Anders Bjorck, an SAS spokesman in Bridgeport, Conn. The other was similar "with some obscene words at the end of it," he said. Both were written in English.
Dozens of SAS passengers were stranded at Sea-Tac Aiport Tuesday.
The information was relayed to the pilot, who decided to divert Flight 937, a Boeing 767, to the southwest tip of Greenland, Bjorck said.
"When we get notes like that we always take them very seriously," he said. "We don't compromise with that." The passengers were taken to a nearby hotel, where they were to spend the night, Bjorck said. He added the airline planned to fly the 192 passengers and 14 crew members to Seattle on Wednesday, with a planned departure of about 7 a.m. PDT.
The plane landed at Kangerlussuaq airport on the Arctic island, police Vice Superintendent Erik Terp said in a telephone interview from Greenland's capital, Nuuk. Terp said his information indicated 203 passengers and crew left the plane.
The airport is located in the city of Soender Stroemfjord, a former U.S. Army base.
Troels Rasmussen, an SAS spokesman in Copenhagen, said the passengers included "a mix of Scandinavians, Europeans and Americans." Bjorck said Danish authorities with bomb-sniffing dogs were expected in Greenland to pursue the investigation. Greenland is a self-governing territory of Denmark.
Last night, the passengers stayed in a hotel about 35 miles north of the Arctic Circle.
"They're all fine," said Seattle resident Linnea Westerlind, whose mother was one of the passengers. "They're giving them a tour of the village they're staying at."
If the plane is cleared, it will be used for Wednesday's flight, Bjorck said. Otherwise a second plane will be flown to Greenland from Copenhagen to complete the trip - a daily flight instituted in 1996.
Nearly everybody living in Sondre Stromfjord works at the town's airport, according to a tourism Web site.