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Bomb joke backfires, grounds plane

NEW YORK (CNN) -- A Delta Air Lines flight about to leave LaGuardia Airport for Fort Lauderdale Saturday afternoon returned to the gate after a passenger told a flight attendant he had brought a bomb onboard, police said.

Passengers were taken off the plane and the man was arrested, said Port Authority Police Sgt. John O'Donnell. A search of the man's luggage and the plane, with at least one bomb-sniffing dog, turned up no explosives, O'Donnell said.

Flight 1503 was scheduled to leave at 3:30 p.m. Saturday when a flight attendant asked the male passenger to take off some electronic equipment he was using. The man then said, "There's a bomb in my bag in the overhead compartment," O'Donnell said.

Port Authority police have not released the passenger's name.

Fellow passenger Karla Guadamuz told CNN the man may have been joking about having a bomb. She said she witnessed the arrest and heard him say about the bomb comment, "I shouldn't have said that."

The man was about 6 feet tall, heavy set, with olive skin and dark hair. She said he had no foreign accent.

Guadamuz says about 100 passengers were on the plane.

According to Delta's Web site, the flight took off shortly after 5 p.m. and was due in Fort Lauderdale shortly after 8 p.m.

CNN Producer Laura Dolan contributed to this report.




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