Two luggage handlers were killed at Tokyo's international airport yesterday by a powerful explosion in bags taken off a Canadian Pacific Airlines jet that had arrived from Vancouver with 390 aboard, police said.
There was no indication of a link to the loss of an Air-India jumbo jet flight off the coast of Ireland just 55 minutes later that had originated in Toronto and stopped in Montreal. CPA's Flight 003 departed from Vancouver.
Aviation specialists here raised the possibility that the CPA jet could have carried a time bomb meant to destroy it in flight, but that the bomb had gone off too late. Police said they had recovered some metal fragments that could have come from a bomb.
In Toronto, a CPA spokesman said the airline had received bomb threats last week, but none in relation to the Tokyo flight, United Press International reported.
The CPA Boeing 747 carried 374 passengers, about 250 of them Japanese, and a crew of 16, police said.
The jet touched down at the international airport near Narita, 30 miles from Tokyo, at about 2:45 p.m., 10 minutes ahead of schedule, police reported. According to a timetable provided by police, even if it had been on schedule, the plane would have touched down a half hour before the detonation.
After the landing, the 369 pieces of baggage aboard the jet were taken from the jet inside 10 large metal containers and moved to a work area in the terminal's south wing, police said.
Airport workers had opened seven of the containers in a second-floor room, just below a tax-free shopping area for departing passengers, when the explosion occurred, according to police.
The blast severely disfigured the bodies of the two victims, scattered wreckage and reportedly damaged the ceiling and walls of the room. The four injured, all airport employes, were hospitalized.
Police announced that about 150 officers would be assigned to investigate the blast.