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Zimbabwean airports shut over bomb scare

by Staff reporter
02 Mar 2024 at 07:49hrs | Views
ZIMBABWEAN airports were yesterday forced to shut down following a "possible bomb threat" at Victoria Falls International Airport, which resulted in President Emmerson Mnangagwa cancelling his trip to the resort city.

Just minutes before the President's scheduled arrival, authorities received a call claiming an explosive device was present on-site.

In response, Mnangagwa's aircraft, a Falcon 7X, safely diverted back to Harare, where he landed without incident.

Mnangagwa intended to attend a closing ceremony of the fifth International Renewable Energy Conference and Expo in Victoria Falls hosted by NewsDay's sister publication, The Standard.

Airports Company of Zimbabwe public relations and communications manager Tonderai Mangombe told NewsDay Weekender that they were closing all the airports to ensure that citizens are safe.

"There is an emergency programme that we follow and we are implementing it. I can't say more. Can I come back to you on it? We are closing all the airports. Those who are escorting their relatives or loved one are not even getting inside the terminal," Mangombe said.

The development has caused chaos in the city where flights destined for Victoria Falls faced disruptions and diversion.

A Kenya Airways flight from Nairobi was forced to hold for several minutes before being redirected to Livingstone, Zambia.

Meanwhile, scheduled flights, including one from Ethiopian Airlines, were diverted to Zambia as emergency investigations continued.

In a statement, Presidential spokesperson George Charamba said the threat originated through an email sent to fastjet claiming a "credible bomb/firearm threat" targeting Zimbabwean airports.

"This morning, Zimbabwe airport authorities were made aware of an email sent through fastjet by one John Doe claiming that ‘credible bomb/firearm threat' targeting Zimbabwean airports. As a precaution, the country's security systems are now on heightened alert following this message whose source and credibility is also being investigated," Charamba said.

He emphasised the seriousness with which such threats are treated.

"While our country is peaceful, and all our ports of entry are well secured, such alerts on possible terrorist attacks are taken and treated very seriously, as nothing should be left to stand a chance," he said.

Charamba reiterated the country's commitment to maintaining peace and security while ensuring that all ports of entry remain safeguarded against potential threats.

The bomb scare could be a setback to Zimbabwe's plans to grow the tourism sector by tapping into the meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibition (MICE) tourism.

Victoria has become the home of MICE tourism and hosted the fifth International Renewable Energy Conference and Expo which ended yesterday.

Victoria Falls is also hosting the 56th session of the UN Economic Commission for Africa Conference of African Ministers of Finance and Economic Development.

The meeting runs from February 28 to March 5.

Source - newsday