EgyptAir MS181 flight hijack: All hostages safe, hijacker arrested

29 March 2016, 06:41 PM

A hijacker who seized an Egyptian airliner and forced it to land in Cyprus has been detained, officials said today. “The hijacker has just been arrested,” Cypriot government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides said on Twitter, without providing further details.

A man emerged from the aircraft and then walked across the tarmac and raised his hands to two awaiting counter-terrorism police officers, an AFP correspondent reported.

They laid him on the ground and searched him for around two minutes before taking him away. The hijacker had claimed to be wearing an explosives belt when he took over the plane. Police had yet to enter the aircraft 30 minutes after his surrender. 

The hijacker seized the EgyptAir plane today and diverted it to Cyprus, triggering a hostage crisis at Larnaca airport on the south coast, Cypriot police said. Egyptian civil aviation said the hijacker had threatened to detonate an explosives belt.

The hijacker contacted the control tower at 8:30 am (0530 GMT) and the plane was given permission to land at 8:50 am, Cyprus police said. A crisis team was deployed to the airport, the main entry point for tourists to the Mediterranean resort island.

The Egypt Air plane was headed from the Mediterranean coastal city of Alexandria to Cairo with 62 passengers on board when it was seized, Egyptian civil aviation said. 

The airline tweeted: “Our Flight MS181 is officially hijacked, we’ll publish an official statement now.” Larnaca is no stranger to hostage crises. Several hijacked planes were diverted to the airport in the 1970s and 1980s. (With inputs from agencies)

As it happened:

First Published: Tuesday, March 29, 2016 11:59 AM
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