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Passengers from diverted flight to leave Winnipeg Thursday night

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Passengers who made an unexpected stop in Winnipeg Thursday on a Cathay Pacific plane heading to Chicago from Hong Kong will finally reach their destination on a new plane the airline is flying to Winnipeg Thursday night.

The 277 passengers and crew are expected to arrive in Chicago shortly after 1 a.m. Friday morning.

The update from Winnipeg Airports Authority spokeswoman Christine Payne Thursday afternoon ends a stressful afternoon for the international travellers.

Their flight was diverted to Winnipeg and landed early Thursday afternoon after an "indicator light" came on in the cargo hold area alerting the flight crew to a possible fire.

Cathay Pacific Flight 806 landed safely in Winnipeg at Richardson International Airport at 12:53 p.m.

WAA officials, firefighters and emergency first responders went on board but no fire or signs of fire were found.

The passengers and crew disembarked using airstairs, which were rolled up to the plane on the runway, and transported to the airport terminal on city transit buses. Luggage was also removed and stored in the security area.

"Everything from that point became precautionary," Payne said, noting passengers were processed through Canadian Border Services Agency and provided with water to await word of when they would continue their journey.

After that, the focus was on putting the visitors at ease while their airline worked out the next step.

Winnipeg Transit buses shuttled the passengers and crew to three area hotels where they were given rooms to rest and food while they waited their flight out.

The plane that was forced to land is still being inspected and no one knows yet why the fire indicator light flashed on.

"The airline recognized their passengers need to get on their way so they’re bringing in another plane and they’ll be departing this evening," Payne said.

Few of the passengers spoke English so explaining what was happening was left to two WAA staff workers fluent in Mandarin and Cantonese. They explained what was going on.

"They’re in good hands. I don’t think they planned on being in Winnipeg today but we’re taking care of them," Payne said.

She said the Cathay Pacific plane had been flying for about 14 hours when it landed in Winnipeg.

"Everybody worked together to help out and they said Canadians are just so friendly," Payne said.

 alexandra.paul@freepress.mb.ca

History

Updated on Thursday, May 9, 2013 at 1:59 PM CDT: adds new photo

3:27 PM: Story updated, byline added

6:21 PM: full write-thru with update on status of passengers

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