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Flight Forced to Turn Back After Official's Son Misses Plane

A Middle East Airlines flight from Lebanon to Iraq was forced to turn around in mid-flight Thursday after the Iraqi transportation minister's son missed the plane and phoned Baghdad to stop the aircraft from landing.

The airline said the aircraft had to turn around 21 minutes into the flight.

The MEA flight was delayed for six minutes because of a missing passenger, identified by the Beirut-based airline as a son of Iraq's Transport Minister Hadi al-Ameri.

Twenty minutes after the plane's departure, the head of MEA in Baghdad contacted the pilot, saying that Iraqi authorities would not allow the plane to land at Baghdad International Airport without Ameri's son on board. The plane, carrying 71 passengers, returned to Beirut.

In Baghdad, a spokesman for Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said he has ordered those who made the decision to be fired.

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