"There was a bomb threat and the plane was handed over to the authorities for inspection. The passengers have been removed," he said, declining to provide details on how the threat had been delivered. Police had no immediate comment.

The flight had been due to take off at 6.05 am. (0605 GMT), but was still being searched at 0840 GMT. The airport in the region popular with tourists was put on the second-highest "orange" alert, but the flights timetable showed no further delays for arrivals and departures.

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