THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, March 21 � A �crude bomb like object� containing gunpowder was found from the cargo section of a Kingfisher flight from Bangalore which had 31 people on board after it landed at the international airport here this morning, raising security concerns, report agencies.
The object of the size of a cricket ball was wrapped in the Bangalore edition of a Malayalam newspaper and was spotted by the cleaners after the passengers deplaned from IT 3174 flight which landed at 8 am here, airport security sources and police said.
The aircraft was towed to the isolation bay and the �country-made bomb like object� removed and defused by bomb disposal squad of the state police by immersing it in water.
Sources said an initial examination showed the presence of gun powder. Police said the exact chemical composition would be known after analysis by forensic experts.
Terming it as a �serious security lapse�, U K Bansal, Special Secretary (Internal Security) said �the only possibility is that it was put at the time of loading of baggage or at the time when it was being unloaded in Thiruvanathapuram.
�There was no detonator, no timing device so the bomb could not have gone off by itself,� he said, adding he would not put the blame on any �particular category of staff� till he had more information.
A civil aviation ministry official told IANS in New Delhi: �We have ordered a probe into this serious lapse of security. The Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) is investigating.�
BCAS is the regulatory authority for civil aviation security in India.
Employees present at the airport were questioned by security agencies.
Security officials at Bengaluru International Airport accused the airline for the security lapse, saying responsibility of screening the items put into the hold rests with the respective airline.
A thorough check of the aircraft was carried out by security agencies, with the help of local police.
The aircraft had taken off from Bangalore at 6.25 am and had 27 passengers and four crew members on board.
A Kingfisher airlines spokesman said the �unclaimed� package was found during routine security check after passengers deplaned. The matter was immediately reported to the authorities who removed it and took precautionary measures.
All 27 passengers are safe and the aircraft was being checked by security agencies, it said.
The statement made no references to security checks carried out by its staff in Bangalore from where the aircraft departed.
�This is a very serious issue. Kerala Police have registered a case and are very seriously looking into it,� Kerala Law Minister M Vijay Kumar said.