Israel-bound Lufthansa Flight Makes Emergency Landing Over Fire Fears

A Lufthansa plane heading for Israel was forced to make an emergency landing in Greece on Thursday when the crew became concerned about a possible fire in the cargo hold. The German airline did not release a report on the incident, which remained unknown to the public until Haaretz obtained details about it yesterday.

One of the roughly 300 passengers on board Flight LH690 told Haaretz that panic broke out as the plane began an unscheduled descent to Thessaloniki International Airport, in Greece. The incident came days after flights resumed across Europe after being suspended for days over fears that an ash cloud from the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajokull could cause aircraft to crash.

After a two-hour stop the Airbus 340-600 plane took off again, arriving safely in Tel Aviv. In response to inquiries from Haaretz, a Lufthansa spokesman said: "During the course of Lufthansa Flight 690 from Frankfurt to Tel Aviv on April 22 a smoke detector was activated in the cargo hold. As passenger safety is Lufthansa's priority, the pilot decided to depart from his planned route and landed safely as the nearest airport, Thessaloniki, in order to allow a thorough inspection of the hold."