Egyptair passenger plane hijacked, forced to Cyprus

ATHENS, (Reuters/AFP): An Egyptair domestic flight from Alexandria to Cairo was hijacked on Tuesday and landed in Cyprus, Egyptian officials said.

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

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The Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation reported that 55 passengers were on board and a crew of seven. The hijacking occurred in Cyprus’s flight information region and the airliner was diverted to Larnaca.

The plane was an Airbus 320, Egypt’s aviation ministry said.

The ministry 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.

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

A crisis team was deployed to the airport, the main entry point for tourists to the Mediterranean resort island.

The hijacker made no immediate demands and later allowed Egyptian passengers to disembark, Cypriot state television reported.

The Egypt Air plane was headed from the Mediterranean coastal city of Alexandria to Cairo with 81 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.

Further details are awaited.

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