Page last updated at 15:35 GMT, Saturday, 9 January 2010

Three held after security alert at Heathrow Airport

Heathrow airport
There is heightened security at airports after failed Christmas Day bombings

Police have arrested three men on a plane at London's Heathrow Airport on suspicion of making a bomb threat.

Armed officers boarded the Dubai-bound Emirates flight after verbal threats were made to air crew.

The Metropolitan Police said the three men, aged aged 58, 48 and 36, were in police custody.

The incident came amid heightened tension at airports across the world following an unsuccessful attempt to bomb an airliner on Christmas Day.

The Metropolitan Police said police were called after a "verbal threat was made to staff".

"They have been arrested on suspicion of making a bomb threat," the force said.

Police with sniffer dogs searched the aircraft, which had 331 passengers on board, and it is understood no dangerous substances were found.

Rescheduled departure

The other passengers were eventually taken off the aircraft and driven to a hotel for the night.

Their flight was rescheduled and departed on Saturday afternoon.

He talked about bombs and how easy it was to blow up a plane
Rylan Dobson

A statement from Emirates said: "Following remarks made as Emirates flight EK004 prepared to depart London Heathrow for Dubai (yesterday) evening, crew alerted the Metropolitan Police who subsequently boarded the aircraft and detained three passengers.

"The safety and security of all our passengers is paramount. We apologise for the inconvenience."

The threat was made at 2115 GMT on Friday as the aircraft was due to take off for Dubai.

It is thought the suspects were all British men who were sitting in economy.

'Muttered threats'

Rylan Dobson, 25, from London, was sitting next to one of the three men arrested on suspicion of making a bomb threat.

"I had to restrain him after the threats he made became too much for comfort," he told the BBC News website.

"He had seemed inebriated when he first got on the plane. He was muttering to himself and he managed to offend a woman nearby.

"The cabin crew told him to tone down his language. That was when he began muttering threats about killing people.

"He talked about bombs and how easy it was to blow up a plane. First to me, then to the female passenger nearby and then to anyone in earshot.

Mr Dobson said he was "surprised" at being asked by the cabin crew to restrain the man.

"I agreed because I was the one sitting in the aisle seat and he was trapped in next to me.

"They gave me plastic cuffs, which I used. He struggled initially but eventually he calmed down and the police led him away."

Extra bag checks, body searches and on board regulations have seen travellers in London wait up to three hours before their flights take off, following the failed bombing of plane en route to the US city of Detroit.

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