German investigators are checking if there was any criminal cause behind a malfunction that forced a plane carrying Chancellor Angela Merkel to make an emergency landing.
The government’s Airbus A340 aircraft carrying Merkel and her delegation to the G20 summit in Argentina turned around and landed safely at the Cologne-Bonn airport after an hour into the 15-hour flight on Friday.
Merkel will miss the opening of the Group of 20 industrialized nations. “We will not be proceeding today,” she said.
“It was a serious malfunction,” she told reporters hours later. “Luckily, we had an excellent crew and the most experienced pilot of the special air mission wing.”
After the unscheduled landing, the delegation was initially kept on the plane for some time, but it was later taken to a hotel in Bonn.
The captain announced to passengers that he had decided to turn back after the “malfunction of several electronic systems.”
Citing security sources, German newspaper Rheinische Post reported that Berlin was checking whether the incident had a “criminal background.”
The German Air Force later said there was no suspicion of criminal activity after the malfunction.
According to German magazine Der Spiegel, the government plane’s entire communication system malfunctioned, constituting a serious emergency, with the crew forced to plan the landing using an on-board satellite phone.
The delay in Merkel’s arrival in Argentina is expected to complicate her schedule, including bilateral meetings with the presidents of the United States, Russia, China and India, according to government sources.
German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz was grounded on the same A340 aircraft last month after an International Monetary Fund (IMF) meeting in Indonesia.
Authorities said at the time that rodents had gnawed through electrical cables during the annual meeting.