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Questions and mystery over Aussie MAS bomb scare

June 2, 2017 Headline News No Comments Email Email

An man from Sri Lanka, in Australia on a student visa, departed the Melbourne psychiatric facility where he had been receiving treatment, bought an airline ticket and boarded a Malaysia Airlines flight. Now, questions are being asked about the handling of a bomb scare in which police waited 90 minutes before storming a plane that had turned round in mid-flight and returned to Melbourne Airport.

Flight MH128 turned back to Melbourne on Wednesday night after a man allegedly rose from his seat shortly after take-off and approached the cockpit holding an unidentified black object he claimed was a bomb.

Sri Lankan national Manodh Marks, 25, was charged yesterday with endangering the safety of an aircraft and making threats or false statements.

Marks was released from psychiatric care on the same day he bought a ticket and boarded the flight, police said.

Authorities have ruled the incident was not terrorism and police have praised the swift action of passengers, who acted quickly and heroically to subdue a passenger they allegedly saw rushing from economy class towards the cockpit while shouting that he had a bomb.

Police later confirmed the man was holding a harmless bluetooth speaker.

Questions are being asked about why terrified passengers had to sit on the plane on the tarmac at Melbourne for well over an hour before masked special operations police clad in full assault gear stormed the aircraft.


Marks was initially reported to have refused to face a magistrate late yesterday. The Sydney Morning Herald later said Marks did not face court due to security concerns raised by Magistrate Suzanne Cameron. Bail was not applied for and defence lawyer Tess Dunsford was quoted as saying that her client suffered from a psychiatric illness. Marks is due back in court on 24 August 2017.

Quite apart from frightening the passengers, the incident has shocked the travel industry and Malaysia Airlines. To say the airline doesn’t need that sort of publicity is to put it mildly. A spokesman for the carrier stressed yesterday that “at no point was the aircraft hijacked”.

Written by Peter Needham

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