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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Plane Hauling Explosives Detained at Domodedovo

Two Moscow airports were put on alert Friday as a cargo plane with almost nine tons of explosives and hundreds of detonators on board was detained by customs officials at Domodedovo Airport while a bomb scare forced officials to briefly evacuate Vnukovo Airport.

An An-12 plane belonging to the Moscow-based Aerofrakht carrier was detained when it made a planned stop at Domodedovo on Thursday night for refueling and a change of crew en route from Vienna to Kazakhstan. The plane was transporting 8,976 kilograms of highly explosive material and 594 detonators, a spokeswoman for the State Customs Committee said.

Aerofrakht representative Sergei Fadeyev said the cargo was sent by a Spanish company, Union Espanola de Explosiva, and was meant for the Dzhezkazgan-based Kazakhmys Corporation, a copper mining enterprise.

"The cargo was meant for industrial use," Fadeyev said.

Domodedovo spokeswoman Yulia Mazanova said the plane was not detained because of its load but over one missing document and one expired document among the carrier's paperwork. The company failed to produce a transit certificate from the Russian Munitions Agency and presented an expired permit for purchasing explosives issued by Kazakh authorities, Mazanova said.

Gazeta.ru reported that the plane left for Kazakhstan on Saturday afternoon. It was not clear Sunday whether the aircraft and its cargo had arrived safely.

Sergei Masterov of the State Civil Aviation Service's flight safety department said Friday his office was looking into the incident.

He said the transport of such highly explosive cargo is allowed if the carrier meets the required technical and safety conditions and has the necessary license.

"When handling dangerous cargo certain conditions must be met, and we are currently studying to what extent they were actually adhered to," Masterov said in a telephone interview.

Fadeyev said his company has a license to deal with dangerous cargo, including explosives.

"It is a routine flight for us, the cargo is absolutely legal," he said.

"This operation is a normal commercial supply of our products, which left Spain with all the correct documentation and complies with the rules covering operations of this type," Reuters cited a representative of the Madrid-based Union Espanola de Explosiva as saying.

Interfax quoted Kazakhmys spokesman Vladislav Nikolayev as saying that his company had been expecting the shipment in May, but it was delayed due to problems getting permission to use the airspace of "certain countries."

Meanwhile, another Moscow airport, Vnukovo, was evacuated Friday morning after an unidentified caller telephoned in a bomb threat. Police checked the airport's premises but did not find any explosives.