Two in Custody After Plane to Rochester Is Turned Back

Two Sri Lankans carrying suspected false passports were taken into custody.


Two Sri Lankans carrying suspected false passports were taken into custody and a commuter plane they had tried to board was sent back to Rochester's airport Wednesday morning because one of their bags was aboard, authorities said.

The Toronto-bound Air Canada plane was directed back to Rochester by the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection and all 11 passengers were removed, said Monroe County sheriff's spokesman John Helfer.

During a routine check of passenger information, Customs and Border Protection officers identified two Sri Lankans carrying Canadian passports that were suspected to be fake, Homeland Security Department spokesman Russ Knocke said.

Authorities placed the pair, a man and a woman, in custody for questioning, during which the woman became upset, began complaining of chest pains and indicated she needed her bag, which had already been loaded onto the flight, Knocke said.

"There was a significant language barrier with the passengers, and the male is believed to have made a confusing remark about a possible suicide bomb," Knocke said.

Authorities ordered the flight back to Rochester "out of an abundance of caution," he said. No bomb was found, he said.

The pair were still in custody early Thursday morning and it was not immediately clear whether they had been charged.

The Southeast Asia island of Sri Lanka has struggled with violence for years involving Tamil Tiger rebels, who want to create a separate homeland for the country's ethnic Tamil minority, saying they face discrimination from the majority Sinhalese. A truce was declared four years ago, but there has been a recent surge in violence.


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