Venezuela finds no explosives on Paris-bound plane

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 16, 2013 at 1:04 pm •  Published: December 16, 2013
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CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Searchers turned up no evidence of explosives on a Paris-bound Air France plane that was grounded after French intelligence authorities warned that terrorists might be planning to blow it up, Venezuela's government said Sunday.

More than 60 technicians, bomb experts and a canine team made two exhaustive searches of the aircraft and passenger luggage Saturday night and a third one Sunday with representatives of the airline, Interior Minister Miguel Rodriguez Torres said.

He said that although no signs of any explosives were found, authorities would closely monitor all Air France flights entering and leaving the country.

The precise nature of the bomb threat was not known, but Rodriguez Torres said French authorities passed along information from a credible source that a terrorist group was seeking to put a bomb aboard an unspecified flight from Caracas to Paris, or vice versa.

"We don't want to speculate on the motives because the information comes directly from French intelligence services," Rodriguez Torres told state TV on Saturday.

In Paris, the French Interior Ministry said Sunday that France immediately alerted Venezuelan authorities upon learning of a potential threat to the route, which is served only by Air France.

"It is obviously the principle of precaution," Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said. "We cannot allow the least risk, run the least risk for passengers." He provided no details on the measures taken and refused to comment on the nature of the threat or its origin.

An Air France press officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of company policy, said the carrier was working "in close collaboration" with airport and government authorities.

Stranded passengers said they had cleared immigration Saturday evening and were preparing to board Air France flight 385 when they were told just before its scheduled 7:25 p.m. departure that it was being delayed so the Airbus A340-300 could be checked. No reason was given.

"We only learned reading Twitter that it could've been a bomb," said Jesus Arandia, a 52-year-old university professor.

About 100 angry passengers surrounded the Air France check-in counter to protest the airline's failure to keep them informed or immediately provide alternative travel arrangements. Around midnight, the airport announced the flight was rescheduled for Sunday.

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