Indian Hijacking Was False Alarm

A Boeing 737 en route from Bombay to New Delhi was mistakenly reported hijacked today, setting off alarms around the world after it landed at New Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport.

It was a false alarm caused by an anonymous phone call and confusion aboard the aircraft, India's civil aviation minister said.

Alliance Airlines Flight CB-744 , with 52 people aboard, was taken to an isolated area of the airport shortly after landing, and surrounded by commandos of the elite National Security Guard.

Some 100 policemen and a dozen ambulances and fire engines, along with anxious relatives, also gathered at the airport.

Passengers were allowed to leave the plane after a three-hour ordeal.

Chain of Events

Officials in Ahmedabad received word that the plane was hijacked while it was in the air, The Times of India reported.

Ahmedabad officials passed the message on to the pilots, who locked themselves in the cockpit and landed, the newspaper said.

Passengers in the cabin thought the hijackers had locked themselves in the cockpit, while the pilots believed the hijackers were with the passengers.

A team of commandos entered the aircraft in New Delhi and discovered the true nature of the situation, Civil Aviation Minister Shahnawaz Hussain told the Times.

Indian officials promised a thorough investigation into the chain of events.

Timelines Examined

The plane was the last flight to leave Bombay for New Delhi today. It departed around midnight local time. Officials in New Delhi received a distress call 15 minutes later.

Alliance Airlines is a subsidiary of Indian Airlines. It typically runs domestic shuttle flights using small planes seating 32 to 64 passengers.

India's last major hijacking on Dec. 24, 1999, prompted the release of three men from India's prisons.

Five hijackers seized an Indian Airlines airliner carrying 178 passengers and 11 crew members departing Nepal.

Early in the seven-day standoff, they killed one passenger and released others. The crisis ended on Dec. 31, when they left the plane in Afghanistan with 155 hostages on board.

ABCNEWS' Leela Jacinto and Satish Jacob contributed to this report.

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