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Korean Airlines jetliner lands after bomb threat

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TORONTO >> A Korean Airlines Boeing 777 en route from Vancouver to Seoul was diverted to a nearby Canadian Forces base after the airline’s U.S. call center received a bomb threat.

Korean Airlines said in a news release that the call center received the threat today (Hawaii time) about 25 minutes after take-off from Vancouver International Airport. Airline officials said they decided to turn the aircraft around.

Maj. Holly Apostoliuk, a Canadian spokeswoman for The North American Aerospace Defense Command, said two U.S. F-15 fighter jets from Portand, Oregon escorted the plane to Canada’s Comox air base on Vancouver Island, which is 113 miles (182 kilometers) outside Vancouver.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Inspector Byron Massie said the plane was still being searched early Wednesday morning.

Massie said the same Korean Airlines flight out of Vancouver faced a similar threat on Monday and the all clear was given after a two hour search. He said Monday’s threat was called in somewhere besides the airline’s U.S. call center but he declined to say where.

Korean Air spokeswoman Penny Pfaelzer said from Los Angeles that the caller warned that an explosive was on board the aircraft. Pfaelzer said she had no additional details.

An airline spokeswoman in Korea said all the passengers and crew were safe and that the airline was conducting a safety inspection and would evaluate a new departure time.

The flight was traveling from Vancouver International Airport and was diverted to Comex at about 5:30 p.m.

Vancouver International Airport spokeswoman Alisa Gloag said flight 72 with 149 passengers landed safely at Comox about three hours after it took off.

Massie said the passengers and crew were at a secure location on the Comox base while the search was being conducted.

Korean Air is one of several Asian airlines that have been scrambling in recent days to change the flight paths for many routes to avoid a rocket North Korea says it will launch later this week.

Pyongyang has said the rocket will carry a satellite into space, but the United States, Britain, Japan and others have urged North Korea to cancel the launch, saying it would be considered a violation of United Nations resolutions prohibiting the country from nuclear and ballistic missile activity.

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Associated Press writers Hyung-jin Kim in Seoul and Jay Arnold in Washington contributed to this report.

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