Home  >>  News >> All around >> Out of Rwanda >> 

EgyptAir Hijack: Passenger Jet Lands at Cyprus’ Larnaca

Passengers released from plane that was forced to divert to Cyprus, amid reports that hijacker has personal motive.

The hijacked EgyptAir jet was parked at a secure area at Larnaca airport in Cyprus.

An EgyptAir domestic flight from Alexandria to Cairo was hijacked and forced to divert to Cyprus, in an incident that was "not related to terrorism", the president of Cyprus said.

The pilot of the plane was threatened by a passenger strapped with explosives, Egypt’s Civil Aviation Ministry said.

Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades said the hijacker seemed to have a personal motive and that the incident was "not related to terrorism".

EgyptAir said that 81 people were on board, including a crew of seven, and that all passengers aside from four foreigners have been released.

Passengers on EgyptAir flight 181 included 10 Americans, eight Britons and four Dutch people, security sources at Alexandria airport said.

The plane was an Airbus 320, Egypt’s aviation ministry said. An official with flight-tracking website FlightRadar24 said the plane showed no immediate signs of distress. The flight between Alexandria and Cairo normally takes about 30 minutes.

The ministry said in a statement that pilot Omar al-Gammal had informed authorities that he was threatened by a passenger who possessed a suicide belt and forced him to land in Larnaca.

A Cyprus Foreign Ministry official said he could not confirm the man was rigged with explosives.

Egyptian state media identified the hijacker as Ibrahim Samata, an Egyptian national who checked in from Alexandria airport.

Cyprus state TV said that the hijacker wanted to contact his ex-wife, who lives in Larnaca.

Egyptian state TV published a picture of the alleged hijacker, taken by one of the passengers.

Witnesses told Cyprus Mail newspaper that the he threw a letter on the apron of the airport in Larnaca, written in Arabic, asking that it be delivered to his ex-wife, who is Greek-Cypriot.

She was reportedly on her way to the airport to participate in the negotiations.

Other media outlets in Cyprus reported he first asked to be taken to Istanbul but that the pilot refused this demand.

CYBC said the airplane was parked at an apron at Larnaca airport. The hijacker asked police to back away from the aircraft, it said.

EgyptAir offered those concerned about their loved ones possibly being on a hijacked flight several telephone numbers to call for more information.

Egypt’s vital tourism industry was already reeling from the crash of a Russian passenger plane in the Sinai in late October.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has said it was brought down by a attack. Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) has said it planted a bomb, killing all 224 people on board.

Cyprus has seen little militant activity for decades, despite its proximity to the Middle East.

A botched attempt by Egyptian commandos to storm a hijacked airliner at Larnaca airport led to the disruption of diplomatic relations between Cyprus and Egypt in 1978.

By Robert Muriisa

Follow Us on Facebook and Twitter

Leave your comment

Your Name

Your Email

Your comment

Close X