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Bomb threat diverts United flight
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2010, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A United Airlines flight was diverted to Salt Lake City Thursday morning after its crew found a "credible bomb threat" aboard while the plane was en route from Denver to San Francisco.

A pilot on Flight 741 read the threatening note to some of those in the first-class area, passengers said.

"You will all die a second death," was the approximate message the pilot relayed to those passengers after the plane's emergency landing about 9:45 a.m., said Allan Braun, of Denver.

Two other writings in a foreign script appeared on the note and were underlined, Braun said. His account matched those by two other passengers in the first-class section.

There were 168 passengers and six crew members aboard.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation would not confirm details of the threat. Authorities also could not confirm when the note was placed on the plane, which began the morning with a flight from Omaha, Neb., to Denver.

The note, found with the plane's food-service equipment about 12 minutes before the landing, also was said to contain details of the plane's flight plan, Braun said.

He said the crew cited that information as one reason the threat was taken so seriously.

In an announcement to the entire plane, the crew said a "credible bomb threat" had been found, according to passenger Amit Sharma, of San Francisco.

Dave Korzep, international operations superintendent for Salt Lake City International Airport, said crews with dogs searched the plane and luggage for explosives and found nothing.

Passengers said the threat appeared to have been found in a drink cart. Flight attendants abruptly halted beverage service and the threat was announced moments later, said passenger Joe Inge, of San Francisco.

"It was really scary," Inge said. "Everybody was fantastic, but we didn't know if we were going to live or die."

Inge said he later saw crew members passing around what appeared to be a paper towel with black writing; an FBI agent boarded the plane after it landed and placed the item in a folder, Inge said.

When the threat was announced on the plane, the passengers stayed calm, said Rebecca Buhler, who was flying to San Francisco for a vacation from her home in Boulder, Colo.

"Everyone was looking at each other, but there was no drama," she said.

Fear didn't set in until after the plane landed and passengers were kept on board for about a half hour, Braun said.

"If it was that dire ... why [were] we on the plane 30 minutes later?" he asked.

The passengers were taken to the airport's International Terminal, the same part of the facility as the U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement offices, where agents interviewed everyone aboard, said airport spokeswoman Barbara Gann.

FBI officials would not say whether anyone was detained; at least 12 passengers interviewed said they did not see authorities remove anyone.

Passengers were questioned until about 2 p.m., when they were sent back to United ticketing to be rebooked and rescreened. However, after rebooking the first few passengers took longer than expected, all passengers were told they would continue to San Francisco. They could then be rebooked on other flights there, and the airline would provide food and lodging to those with missed connections, United representatives told the crowd in the terminal.

They had planned to reboard the same plane, but United officials said technicians found two hydraulic leaks when the craft pulled up to the terminal, Inge said. He said passengers were told a flight to Denver was rerouted to San Francisco for them, and the Denver-bound passengers were delayed in Salt Lake City awaiting repairs on the grounded airplane.

According to United's Web site, Flight 741 finally left Utah at 7:02 p.m. and landed in San Francisco about 8 p.m. -- 10 hours later than expected.

ealberty@sltrib.com" Target="_BLANK">ealberty@sltrib.com

Security » 'You will die' note found; Denver flight lands in SLC
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