When Chinese lanterns brought Mumbai airport to a standstill

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Bengaluru, May 25: Better safe than sorry has been the general approach of the police while fighting cases of terror at least post 26/11. The city of Mumbai which is extremely high on the terror radar witnesses a minor scare on Saturday, after a Jet Airways flight was told to abort take off.

The reason was that someone had spotted parachutes approaching the air strip. However, now it has been confirmed that these were not parachutes trying to stage an attack on the airport, but were lanterns which had strayed near the air strip from the Juhu beach.

Mumbai airport

The lantern scare:

Following this incident in which the aircraft was asked to abort take off, an FIR was lodged at the Sahar police station. Investigations commenced into the incident almost immediately and it has nearly been concluded that these were paper lanterns that had flown near the airstrip. Several such Chinese made lanterns are sold at the Juhu Beach and some could have got away from the vendor, an officer associated with the probe informed OneIndia.

However, the security machinery wanted to take no chances. The objects were first spotted by the pilot who reported the same. He thought at first that these were parachutes and this could have been launched with an intention of carrying out an attack. The ATC immediately ordered aborting of the take off.

Slow in action:

The issue of these lanterns flying into area close to the airport has been raised in the past as well, Saturday's incident shows that no action has been taken. There is a great demand for these lanterns at the Juhu beach during the weekends.

There have been two instances in the past where such lanterns have come into the air space and caused a distraction. The city police had instructed the beat cops on the beach to prevent this from happening. Moreover, such lanterns can cause a security scare. These lanterns float in the air with the help of a candle and compartment filled with paraffin wax. From a distance if seen especially from an air strip, it resembles a parachute attempting to stage an attack.

No laughing matter:

Police officials in Mumbai say that this is not a laughing matter. Such things should not occur and we will take steps to stop such occurrences in the future. Airports are high on the radar of terrorists and hence there cannot be a single chance that we can take, the officer also added.

The police will also launch a drive and warn the vendors of these lanterns to exercise caution in future. We cannot ban the sale of these lanterns, but we can put in place safeguards to ensure that these things do not happen in future, the officer also added.

OneIndia News

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