Plane grounded in France over human trafficking fears

Vatry airport - file photo
Image caption,Police have sealed off the small Vatry airport in north-eastern France

A plane carrying 303 Indian passengers has been grounded at an airport in north-eastern France on suspicion of human trafficking, French media report.

The Airbus A340 was flying from the United Arab Emirates to the Nicaraguan capital, Managua.

It was grounded during a technical stopover at the small Vatry airport in Marne department on Thursday after an “anonymous tip-off”, prosecutors say.

Several people are confined in the airport, which police have sealed off.

An investigation has been launched into the conditions and purpose of the trip, local officials said.

They added that some of the passengers were believed to be illegal migrants. Two passengers have been taken into custody.

A statement by the Marne prefect’s office said that the passengers were allowed to remain in the aircraft at first, but later the airport’s arrival lounge was transformed into a waiting area with beds.

The aircraft is owned by Romanian charter company Legend Airlines. A lawyer for the firm, Liliana Bakayoko, told French news channel BFMTV that it was ready to co-operate with the French authorities and hoped the plane could be on its way in the next couple of days.

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