Whitehorse learned from 9/11 scare, mayor says

Whitehorse is far better prepared to deal with a hijacked airliner than it was on Sept. 11, 2001, when city officials thought they were dealing with such an emergency, the mayor says.

Whitehorse is far better prepared to deal with a hijacked airliner than it was on Sept. 11, 2001, when city officials thought they were dealing with such an emergency, the mayor says.

"There is no question we are better prepared," Mayor Ernie Bourassa told CBC News.

Just hours after four hijacked airlines crashed with devastating effectsin the United States, the U.S. military toldYukon authoritiesthat it wanted to force two planes to land at the Whitehorse airport becauseit feared they had also been taken over by militants.

With news of the potential hijacking, many people fled the downtown area and the Alaska Highway was closed.

The South Korean 747 jumbo jet was intercepted over Alaska and escorted to the airport by U.S. and Canadian jet fighters. A cargo plane was also forced to the airport but thesuspected hijackings turned out to be false alarms. Still, the planeswere kept in the Yukon for a couple of days.

Emergency response 'a lot smoother'

Bourassa saidofficials would respond quite differently if faced with a similar emergency these days.

"In a situation like that, given identical circumstances, I would hope at this point that the communication would flow a lot quicker," hesaid.

"If we could get that working earlier, given the identical situation, things would go probably a lot smoother and better for us."

But he also warned thatthe panic after the evacuation order was to be expected and that it's hard to control the public's reactions.

"If it's a real situation, you never know how people will react."

Emergency Measures Organization spokesman Erin Deacon said peopleshould learn from the experience and have a plan in place should such a situation occur again.

People throughout Canada and the United States are marking the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks on Monday, in a series of memorials.