Dutch police blame ‘miscommunication’ for hijack alert

The Vueling plane was accompanied by two Dutch F-16 fighters as it entered Dutch airspace/FILE

THE HAGUE, Aug 29 – Dutch police said Wednesday that an alert over a feared hijacking of a flight from Spain to Amsterdam which caused fighter jets to scramble was triggered by a “miscommunication.”

“The report over the hijacking seemed to have been a miscommunication,” the police said in a tweet on their official Twitter account, explaining that “No radio contact was possible” with the plane.

“Therefore, no hijacking,” the police said, as the Spanish airline Vueling confirmed there had been a “momentary loss of communication” between its flight carrying 180 passengers and the ground.

“It’s not true,” a Vueling spokeswoman said when asked about the hijacking report, adding, “the plane landed safely.”

But military police who surrounded the Airbus A320 after it landed from Malaga said there had still not been any contact with the cockpit and the crew.

“We do not know what is going on in the plane, but we have to take it seriously and that we have done,” military police spokesman Martijn Peelen told AFP.

Dutch media quoted passengers who were speaking from inside the plane via mobile phone as denying they had been hijacked.

“There is nothing going on in here,” one passenger told Dutch national news agency NOS during a live broadcast.

Dutch authorities had gone on high alert, scrambling two F-16 fighter planes after the flight entered Dutch airspace without making radio contact.

The incident came as Schiphol, Europe’s fifth-largest airport, was coping with flight cancellations and delays Wednesday after workers found a bomb dating back to World War II.

Security personnel evacuated part of Terminal C as a precaution, while explosives experts tackled the bomb.

The military police, who are responsible for protecting key points like airports and other border sites, could not say how long it would take the bomb disposal teams to finish the job.

“We are awaiting word from them,” spokesman Peelen told AFP.

Between 120,000 and 140,000 passengers pass daily through Schiphol, which was bombed at least twice during the war, first by the Luftwaffe during the German invasion in May 1940 and again by the Allies in December 1943.

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