Video: Spain-bound plane grounded after terror scare

NBC, msnbc.com and news services
updated 7/13/2012 9:25:30 AM ET 2012-07-13T13:25:30

A jetliner bound for Madrid returned to Kennedy International Airport as a precaution Thursday evening after a passenger reported strange wiring in the bathroom, but no explosive device was found, law enforcement officials said.

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Delta Flight 126 left the gate at about 8 p.m. ET and returned over an hour later. A U.S. Marshal was onboard the plane, and the New York Police Department bomb squad and FBI met the flight as a swarm of law enforcement vehicles crowded the plane and the 206 passengers were taken off the aircraft.

The wires were determined to be non-explosive but apparently did not belong to the plane, said Paul Browne, chief spokesman for the NYPD.

The wires were threaded through a drinking straw, WNBC-New York reported.

Two passengers questioned
Investigators briefly questioned two passengers, a woman who reported having difficulty breathing at the time the wires were discovered, and a man who apparently had been the last to use the bathroom.

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Officials were concerned the woman may have been creating some sort of diversion, but that was determined not to be the case. The male passenger denied having anything to do with the wires. Both passengers were released.

The Transportation Security Administration said the plane taxied to a remote location and passengers were escorted off.

"The aircraft was searched with negative results," the TSA said in a statement.

Delta spokeswoman Sarah M. Lora said in a statement that the flight was returned to JFK "out of an abundance of caution" and that "the flight landed safely."

Following the investigation, Flight 126 was scheduled to depart JFK at 3:10 a.m. ET and to arrive in Madrid at at 3:41 p.m. (Madrid time), Lora said.

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In May, a US Airways jet traveling from Paris to North Carolina was diverted to Maine after a French passenger handed a note to a flight attendant mentioning that she had a surgically implanted device, raising fears of a terror scenario that security officials had warned about. After landing, the plane taxied to a remote part of the airport where law enforcement officials removed the passenger.

NBC News, msnbc.com staff and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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