SYDNEY – A passenger has been charged with writing a threatening note that caused the emergency evacuation of an Australian domestic airliner at an airport on Tuesday, police said.
Police would not comment on a report in The Australian newspaper that the passenger wrote on an air sickness bag that he had stashed a bomb on the Virgin Australia ATR 72 twin-engine turboprop plane.
Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported that a single-word note was found near the toilet of the flight from Sydney to the New South Wales state town of Albury.
"Police and emergency services went to the airport after receiving information that a note was located in the toilet area of the aircraft," a police statement said.
Panicked passengers believed there could be a bomb on board as they were urged to quickly evacuate. There was no bomb and no terrorism investigation.
A 30-year-old man, whose name was not released, was charged with sending a document threatening death or grievous bodily harm and giving police false information. He was released on bail to appear in the Albury Local Court on July 4. It was not immediately clear what penalty he may face.
Wendy Willett was among 42 passengers aboard Flight 1174. She said none was aware of any security concerns until their plane was surrounded by police.
She jumped from an emergency window exit into a policeman's arms.
"Suddenly the hostess started shouting. She was saying: 'Evacuate, evacuate. Leave all your belongings, jump out the window.'" Willet said.