Paper Says Suspect in Jet Blast Admits Pulling Grenade Pin
TOKYO (AP) _ A suspect in a nearly disastrous explosion aboard a Thai jetliner told investigators he took a grenade into one of the plane’s toilets and pulled the safety pin, a leading Japanese newspaper reported today.
The suspect, a 43-year-old man who has been widely described in the press as a member of Japan’s largest underworld gang, was quoted by the Asahi Shimbun as telling police, ″I brought a bomb with me into the toilet (and) I pulled its safety pin.″ The incident occurred Oct. 26.
The Asahi said the man, who was one of 62 people injured among the 247 aboard Flight 620 of Thai Airways International, has yet to clarify what he was trying to do and how he obtained the grenade.
But a major Japanese daily, Yomiuri Shimbun, which gave the man’s name as Seiki Nakagawa, quoted him as telling police that he was deeply in debt and tried to commit suicide by setting off the grenade.
″I got the grenade from an aquaintance in the Philippines and hid it in the rear toilet,″ the man was quoted as telling police by another major Japanese daily, the Sankei Shimbun.
Osaka prefectural police officials refused to comment on the newspaper reports, saying their investigation was still under way. The man has been under police guard in the Osaka Police Hospital but has not been formally arrested.
The blast ripped through the rear section of the passenger cabin as the plane, an Airbus A-300, approached Osaka on a flight from Bangkok, via Manila.
Newspaper accounts have said Nakagawa was drunk aboard the plane, and had boasted to other passengers that he had the equivalent of $1.2 million in flight insurance.
The blast tore through the rear pressure bulkhead that keeps air pressure in the main cabin, according to a preliminary investigation report released this week by the Transport Ministry.
After the explosion and sudden loss of cabin pressure, the plane plunged five miles, from 33,000 feet to about 6,500 feet before making an emergency landing.