New Zealand airport evacuated after ‘bomb message’ found on plane

Queenstown Airport from Deer Park Heights © Wikipedia
A bomb scare has forced the partial evacuation of the airport in Frankton, New Zealand, after a cleaner found a “message” about an explosive device on board a plane that landed in Queenstown Airport.

The note was found at about 3 pm local time on board a Qantas QF121 that had come in from Sydney, Stuff NZ reports. A police spokeswoman confirmed that “some sort of message about a bomb” was discovered on a plane that is now sitting on the tarmac, the New Zealand Herald reports.

The police said that all the passengers had left the plane when the suspicious note was discovered.

Photos shared on Twitter showed people standing outside of the terminal. 

Queenstown Airport confirmed on its website that landings for two flights were canceled in wake of the bomb scare. One flight from Wellington and one from Auckland were canceled. A flight from Christchurch was also diverted.

“Queenstown Airport is currently working with NZ Police to respond to a security alert,” the airport said on the website, adding that the airport terminal was evacuated at 3:15 pm as a “precaution.”

After initial search aviation security and police found no evidence of explosives after searching the plane, the police said in a statement. Authorities continued to search through baggage and the terminal building, while also questioning passengers.

After roughly a two-hour search, authorities have cleared the airport, but promised to continue the investigation.

“Police have completed a search of Queenstown Airport following a bomb scare. Nothing of interest has been found and the airport is now being reopened and will resume normal operations,” police said in a statement.

Queenstown is known for its fictional hobbits, as much of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy was filmed in the area. Besides movie enthusiasts, tourists flock to Queenstown for the kayaking, bungee jumping, jetboating, white-water rafting, hiking and skiing.

It has a local population of only 13,150 but in 2013 recorded more than 1.8 million international guest nights, according to Statistics New Zealand.