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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Jet Passed Triple Security Check at Athens Airport

ATHENS -- The jumbo jet that exploded shortly after take off from New York had received multiple security checks by police, security and TWA officials at Athens airport the day it crashed, the government said Thursday.

"There is no reason to suspect anything as the plane went through a very strict check," said government spokesman Dimitris Reppas, describing the procedure as "normal."

He added there was no reason to further bolster security "because no one can imagine that Hellenikon Airport could be the starting point for this problem." Any such accusation he said "is beyond the bounds of extreme logic."

But Hellenikon Airport was the focus of just such a problem four months ago when the U.S. Transportation Department issued a warning about lax security there.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration did not say why it issued it, but the warning was lifted in mid-May after security was tightened, especially around US-bound flights.

Reppas said the TWA jumbo flew to Athens from New York on Wednesday and was here for about two hours before returning to Kennedy Airport.

The Boeing 747 bound for Charles de Gaulle Airport from Kennedy Airport exploded about 8:45 p.m. Wednesday local time.

"There was a triple security check while it was here," Reppas said, adding that the causes behind the TWA explosion would "have to be searched for long after the completion of the flight of the specific aircraft from Athens to New York."

The head of the Greek Civil Aviation Authority, Dionyssis Kalofonos, said the TWA jumbo was guarded and checked by airline employees, Greek security officials and private TWA security officers while it was on the ground.

He added that all passengers, carry-on baggage and luggage also went through security checks by both police and TWA security officers.

Greeks are very sensitive about security issues concerning Athens airport and memories here are still fresh over a travel advisory issued by the United States in 1985 that led to more than $100 million in lost tourism revenues.

The most well-known terrorist incident occurred on June 14, 1985, when TWA flight 847 was hijacked for 15 days by Shiite Moslems shortly after takeoff from Athens. The hijacking of an Egyptair jet from Athens to Cairo in November 1985 resulted in the death of more than 60 people during a botched Egyptian rescue attempt in Malta.

In April 1986, a TWA flight from Rome to Athens exploded in midair over Greece, killing four Americans. That explosion was caused by a bomb the size of a cigarette package.

A similar bomb blew up aboard a Pan Am jumbo from Tokyo to Hawaii in 1982, killing a Japanese teenager. In 1988, Palestinian Mohammed Rashid was arrested at Athens airport for planting that bomb and was sentenced here in 1992 to 18 years imprisonment.