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passenger caught lighting matches

American Airlines flight diverted, passenger detained

Alexandra Zavis  Aug 05, 2010

An American Airlines passenger accused of lighting matches was detained after his LAX-bound plane was diverted to New Mexico, officials said Thursday.

American Airlines Flight 117, carrying 169 passengers and 11 crew members, departed from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport shortly after 2 p.m. Wednesday, said airline spokesman Tim Smith.

The flight crew requested to land at Albuquerque International Sunport after smoke was detected in the cabin and a passenger was found lighting matches in and around the bathrooms, he said.

It was not immediately clear what the passenger was attempting to do.

“He was so non-communicative, frankly, that we weren’t sure what he was up to, which is what caused concern,” Smith said.

Law enforcement officials met the plane when it landed in Albuquerque at about 4.30 p.m., said airport spokesman Daniel Jiron.

The flight was delayed for six hours while officials searched the plane and questioned passengers and crew members.
“Out of an abundance of caution, the plane was swept by canines,” officials with the Transportation Security Administration said in a statement.

No explosives were found.

FBI officials took the man into custody for questioning and the plane was cleared to take off, Jiron said. His name was not immediately released.

The plane had been scheduled to land in Los Angeles at 5:20 p.m. but arrived about 11 p.m., Smith said.

American Airlines flight diverted, passenger detained
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