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When Agni III came in the way of jets

April 13, 2007 18:04 IST

Two jet aircraft had to return to the south-east Asian cities from where they took off while flying over Indian airspace at the time of the Agni missile test on Thursday with one incident threatening to cause a diplomatic spat.

An Air India Express flight bound for Chennai via Tiruchirappalli returned to Singapore following the missile test.

In the second incident, the Garuda Indonesia jet, carrying Muslim pilgrims en route to Saudi Arabia, had reached Indian airspace when the missile streaked across the sky forcing the plane to turn around, AFP reported from Jakarta.

Air India Express's Singapore-Tiruchirappalli-Chennai flight landed in Tiruchirapalli at 6.30 pm on Thursday, over seven hours behind schedule, officials said.

The flight was on its way here when defence officials advised the pilot to take a diversion for safety reasons in view of the Agni test. The pilot then contacted the air traffic authorities in Colombo, the nearest airport, but was refused permission to land.

Garuda's operations diector Ari Sapari was quoted as saying by the Kompas newspaper that there was no prior information about the test.

Indonesia's foreign ministry could lodge a formal protest over the incident, Transport Minister Hatta Rajasa reportedly said.

The Boeing 747 jet carrying 400 people aborted its flight after 90 minutes and returned to the Indonesian capital Jakarta, the report said, adding that the plane resumed its journey four hours later.
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