Tokyo — Baggage from a Canadian airliner exploded at Tokyo’s international airport Sunday, killing two luggage handlers, police said. Canadian authorities called the blast a “terrorist bombing.”
It was not immediately known whether the explosion at Narita International Airport was linked to the crash of an AirIndia jumbo jet on a flight from Canada to India.
All 329 people aboard the Boeing 747 were believed to have perished when the plane plunged into the Atlantic off Ireland, and Indian authorities did not rule out the possibility that the crash was provoked by an explosion.
Japanese police officials declined comment about a possible connection between the two events, the latest in a recent string of acidities’ or terrorist acts involving commercial aviation.
Police here said a blast ripped through a Narita baggage handling room about 40 minutes after Canadian Pacific Flight 003 arrived with 390 people at the airport 40 miles northeast of Tokyo.
There were no injuries among the passengers from the Boeing 747 jumbo jet, but two baggage handlers were killed and four were injured. An estimated 7,000 people were believed to be in the terminal at the time of the blast, police said.
A police official said Japan would ask Canadian authorities to investigate in Vancouver, where the Canadian Pacific flight originated.
In Ottawa, Joe Clark, the foreign minister, condemned what he called the “terrorist bombing,” and issued a statement that said: “An explosive appears to have been included in baggage coming off CP flight 003 originating in Vancouver.”
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police and other authorities were in contact with officials from India, Britain, Ireland and Japan concerning the explosion in Japan and the crash off Ireland, Canadian officials said.
Peter Golding, a spokesman for Canadian Pacific airliners, declined comment. On security related matters.
The Japanese police. Official, who asked not to be identified, said Japan wanted to know how the baggage was loaded, and would also seek help from Interpol, the international clearinghouse for law enforcement information.
The official declined to comment, however, on any possible connection with the crash of the AirIndia plane.
Asked about reports that the explosion at Narita was triggered by a time bomb, Masafumi Ebie, spokesman for the airport police, said: “So far we have not found any time bomb equipment among the debris.”
Ebie said the six workers apparently were unloading luggage from four containers that were beside a conveyor that carries baggage. To Arriving passengers.
The Canadian Pacific flight touched down at 2:40 p.m. (1:40 a.m. EDT) with 374 passengers and a crew of 16, the official said, and the explosion ripped through the baggage room at 3:20 p.m. (2:20 a.m. EDT).
The plane had landed at Narita five minutes early and the bomb could easily have caused the plane to blow up en route if it had been held back by head winds, a common circumstance on westbound transpacific air routes, airport officials said.
Japan’s Kyodo News Service said police were investigating whether the explosives were planted by terrorists or by someone trying to collect insurance money.
The Narita airport has a history of trouble, involving local farmers who opposed expropriation of their land for its construction and leftist radicals who took up the issue as part of their antigovernment demonstrations.