Korean Air jet evacuated before takeoff after bullets found on board

A South Korean plane with 230 passengers onboard was evacuated after two live bullets were discovered before takeoff.

The Korean Air Lines Co Ltd jet was bound for Manila when the bullets were discovered at Incheon International Airport in South Korea, police said.

The plane was originally scheduled to take off at 7.45am local time but ultimately left at around 11 am.

The two 9mm bullets were found by a passenger shortly before the jet was to take off, officials said.

Yonhap news agency reported that airport police were alerted around 8.05am and informed that a passenger found the bullets lying under his seat.

The plane then returned to the terminal and was allowed to depart after security checks identified no immediate terror risk, police said.

Officials added that an antiterrorist police unit and a military explosive disposal team conducted searches on the aircraft.

The plane had 218 passengers and 12 crew members on board.

“We are looking into how the bullets got into the plane,” a police officer was quoted as saying to Reuters.

According to a Korean Air official the airline is monitoring the results of the police investigation into the incident.

Gun possession is illegal in South Korea, except for licensed sporting and hunting guns, which must be stored at police stations.

Illegal possession of a firearm can lead to a prison sentence of up to 15 years and a fine of up to 100 million won (around £63,258).

A joint probe was conducted by land ministry officials, intelligence officers and the police after the initial police report.

The probe has found nothing suspicious, including the possibility of terrorism.

Officials said they were looking into “all possible scenarios that the live ammunition was able to be carried into the plane.”

They added that the airport and the airline will be held “legally accountable for possible leniency at the in-flight checks or security checkpoints,” reported Yonhap.