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Thu, Apr 21, 2005

AN-124 Seized In India

Authorities Say It Was Carrying Ammo And Military Vehicles

A Russian aircraft loaded with arms and headed from Singapore to Kuwait was impounded Tuesday night during a refueling stop in India, according to aviation sources.

The Hindu quoted air traffic controllers in the tower at Mumbai Airport said the Russian Antonov AN-124 was diverted from that airport to Pune after an Air India Boeing 747 suffered an inflight malfunction and was unable to retract its landing gear. The 747 was unable to taxi after landing at Mumbai, so the AN-124 was diverted, according to the ATC sources.

Once on the ground at Pune, the AN-124 (file photo of type, below) was found to be full of arms, ammunition and military vehicles.

The commercial aircraft was fueled at Pune -- an Indian Air Force base -- and ordered back to Mumbai. There, the Antonov was inspected and the pilot questioned. Authorities said, when the pilot refused to answer questions from government officials, the aircraft was impounded.

There was no immediate indication as to why the aircraft was carrying arms, whether it happened permission from the Indian government to fly through its airspace or where exactly it was heading. The investigation continues.

FMI: www.mumbaiairport.com

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