Emergency Exit Hijinks Tops Weekend of Airport Mischief


Philippine Airlines Flight 434 from Cebu had just arrived at Tokyo’s Narita International Airport (NRT) last Saturday afternoon when a 33-year-old man opened an emergency exit and jumped as the plane taxied to the terminal.

He ran but couldn’t hide before airport security caught him. Police identified the suspect as 33-year-old Hirokatsu Tachihara.

Witnesses on the flight said Tachihara simply got out of his seat and opened the emergency door. At altitude, when the cabin is pressurized, you can’t open the emergency door.

Police said he jumped about 13 feet to the tarmac and ran about 160 yards before being captured.

For some reason Flight 434 from Cebu City to Tokyo was cancelled today.

Philippines Airlines Flight 434 has some history. In 1994, convicted World Trade Center car bomber Ramzi Yousef placed a bomb on board the flight. The Boeing 747’s steering and aileron controls were damaged but the fuselage remained intact and the captain heroically made an emergency landing in Okinawa.

In other news.

On Sunday, customs officials at Chennai International Airport (MAA) in southern India, the third busiest airport in the country, detained four men for allegedly smuggling gold from Singapore.

One of the four men arrested, Nainar Mohammed, freaked when he saw passengers being frisked and baggage inspected, so he allegedly threw about six pounds of gold onto a conveyor belt.

The gold was recovered and seized, reported hindustantimes.com.

Police also found another 3.3 pounds of gold in a rice cooker as if it were deposits of placer gold, allegedly smuggled by the four-member team, who were now casualties of desire.

But as customs officials were questioning them, a group of 20 unarmed men entered the customs hall and caused a ruckus by shouting slogans and demanding the gang of four’s immediate release.

They allegedly threatened officials and then left. Police later traced some of them to a nearby neighborhood. They have been detained and are being questioned, police said. No word yet if the 20 men were investors in a smuggling scheme.

India imposes a 10 percent import duty on gold. And that’s led to smuggling.

Also last week, India authorities reported 13 cases of gold smuggling by employees of Air India who thought they could travel under the radar. The cases stretch over the past three years, a civil aviation minister told Reuters.

The minister told parliament that disciplinary action was taken against the Air India employees. He did not disclose the amount of gold smuggled or paint any brushstrokes of details.

Gold is the hedge fund of choice in India. Apparently smugglers even swallow nuggets of gold to try to get them past airport security.

The sheer volume of gold being smuggled is mind erasing. Government figures show that more than 2 tons of smuggled gold was retrieved last year, while the World Gold Council estimated 200-250 tons of gold illegally entered India.

[Photo: iStock]


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