Charlotte Ikonen, Daily Star, December 16, 2018
PAN Am flight 103 blew up in the sky 31,000ft over Lockerbie in Scotland just 38 minutes after taking off.
Many of those aboard on the Boeing 747 nearly 30 years ago were going home to the United States for the Christmas period.
And now there are claims the atrocity could have been avoided.
To mark the milestone anniversary, Channel 5 documentary Lockerbie: The Unheard Voices, tells the story of 12 victims and survivors – and reveals the warnings were ignored.
It claims a fortnight before the explosion, a caller with an Arab accent rang the US Embassy in Finland to say there was a “plot against a Pan American flight to the US sometime in the next two weeks”.
This was passed to the US Federal Aviation Administration but was “ultimately dismissed as a hoax”.
A second, less widely known warning, came two days before the ill-fated flight, it is claimed.
The UK Department of Transport “sent out a letter” warning a “bomb had been placed in a cassette player”, according to the documentary.
“The warning was based on detailed information sent out by the German intelligence services,” a secret service agent recalls.
This was never heeded.
It is not known how the brown Samsonite case made its way into cargo hold, but “security checks” failed to pick up anything.
It contained the Toshiba radio/cassette tape player, in which 450g of Semtex and a timer was hidden.
Pan Am Flight 103 was flying from Frankfurt to Detroit via London and New York on December 21, 1988, but while over the Scottish town of Lockerbie a bomb was detonated aboard the plane.
All 259 passengers were either be killed in the explosion or falling to earth while eleven of the town’s residents on the ground were also killed by falling debris, bringing the death toll to 270.
Some 21 homes had to be demolished due to the damage caused by the jet.
When the wreckage crashed to earth, the British Geographical Survey recorded the impact measured 1.6 on the Richter scale.
Following a three year investigation by local police and the FBI two Libyans were issued with arrest warrants for murder.
In 1999 Colonel Gaddafi, the Libyan leader, handed over the men for trial and eventually Libyan intelligence officer Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was jailed for life in 2001 after being convicted of 270 counts of murder.
However the Scottish government released him back to his homeland on compassionate grounds in 2009 after he was diagnosed with terminal cancer.
He died in Tripoli three years later in 2012, protesting his innocence.