Flight diverted in US after a man tried open plane door

A 34-year-old passenger from Burbank, IL, created panic in the flight, immediately after 20 minutes of take off from Houston yesterday, by walking towards the front of the cabin, saying he had to get off the plane.

He also made an attempt to open an emergency exit door but failed. There were loud screams on board as men throughout the cabin dashed toward the disturbance.

The passenger's actions forced the pilot to contact air traffic controllers at 1:15 p.m. (local time). They diverted the airplane to Lambert-St. Louis International Airport and it landed safely at 1:25 p.m.

When law enforcement officers entered the plane, two passengers and a crew member were holding the man down on the floor of the cabin of the Boeing 737.

The man was in police custody and was being questioned about the incident, according to authorities. The man had not been charged by so far.

"There was no indication that the incident was related to terrorism," Continental Airlines spokeswoman Julie King said.

Police removed the unruly passenger's bags and "they didn't find anything in the luggage that was anything they had to investigate further," airport authorities said.

But law enforcement officers were continuing to investigate whether there were any terrorist ties to the incident, he said.

None of the 160 passengers aboard the flight were injured. The flight arrived in Chicago, 1 hour and 9 minutes behind schedule.

Another flight, Delta Airlines Flight 1706 from Detroit to San Diego, was also diverted to Albuquerque, N.M., deplaned and thoroughly searched after a flight attendant found a suspicious note in a lavatory.

After the search, "no suspicious devices were found," FBI spokesman Frank Fisher said in an email.

The flight was later cleared to continue on its route. Officials declined to comment on the nature of the diversion and whether it was related to the Continental flight.

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