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An American citizen on a flight from Paris to Atlanta claimed to have a fake passport and said he had explosives in his luggage, forcing federal air marshals to intervene and the plane to land in Maine, U.S. officials said Tuesday.
The officials, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the investigation was ongoing, believe the man's passport was authentic.
There were 235 passengers and 13 crew aboard Delta Air Lines Flight 273, which landed safely just after at 3:30 p.m. at Bangor International Airport, Delta spokeswoman Susan Elliott said.
Federal officials met the aircraft at the airport. The Transportation Security Administration said the passenger was being interviewed by law enforcement.
After the man was apprehended, flight attendants moved passengers forward to clear out space in the rear of the plane, a passenger told CNN.
"We were told there was some danger and some threats made, but beyond that we weren't told anything else," said the passenger, Adithya Sastry. Sastry said a passenger sitting next to him told him that the "young man" who was apprehended was carrying a backpack.
Elliott said late Tuesday afternoon that the Airbus A330 remained on the ground in Bangor but that the airline planned to continue the flight to Atlanta.
All passengers were taken off the plane because it was an international flight and they needed to clear customs, said Rebecca Hupp, a spokeswoman for Bangor International Airport.
NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, did not launch any military fighters in response to the flight, spokesman John Cornelio said. "By the time we were brought into the equation," the passenger was already under the control of air marshals, Cornelio said from Colorado.
The Bangor airport is accustomed to dealing with diverted flights.
It's the first large U.S. airport for incoming European flights, and it's the last U.S. airport for outgoing flights, with uncluttered skies and one of the longest runways on the East Coast. Aircraft use the airport when there are mechanical problems, medical emergencies or unruly passengers.
Delta, based in Atlanta, is the world's largest airline and has a joint venture with Air France-KLM on flights across the Atlantic.
This program aired on April 27, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.
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