As North Korea gets ready to launch a rocket generally acknowledged to be an ICBM, NORAD was taking no chances Tuesday when a bomb threat involving a South Korean airliner in the air off the west coast of Canada was phoned in. F-15 fighters from Portland intercepted the Korean Airlines Boeing 777 off British Columbia and escorted the plane to a Royal Canadian Air Force base at Comox on Vancouver Island. The aircraft, carrying 149 passengers, took off from Vancouver for Seoul at 2:35 p.m. PDT and was on the ground in Comox at 5:23 p.m. Comox is about 50 miles from Vancouver. "Wing emergency personnel are responding to the location and are securing the aircraft in accordance with normal procedures. All emergency services on the Wing have been activated," said RCAF spokesman Lt. Trevor Reid.
The bomb threat was received at the Los Angeles office of Korean Air. By then the 777 was near Haida Gwaii, an archipelago about 400 miles northwest of Vancouver. Early reports said the aircraft was held in an isolated area of the air force base and the passengers kept onboard. There were also unconfirmed reports that it had been cleared to leave the base about 7 p.m. PDT.