EgyptAir Hijack: 4 Foreigners, Crew Still On Plane, Remaining 56 Freed

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NICOSIA, March 29 – EgyptAir said negotiations had resulted in the release of all passengers on the hijacked Egyptian plane except for five foreigners and the crew. Meanwhile, Cyprus official said 56 people on board the hijacked EgyptAir plane have been released and have left the aircraft.

The plane landed in Larnaca in Cyprus after which the hijackers allowed all passengers to disembark the aircraft. Cypriot government official says the hijacked plane landed on Tuesday morning at the airport in Larnaka and that there are suspicions of a bomb on board. A second Cypriot official says there “seems like there’s more than one hijacker.” He says there have been no demands other than that police vehicles move away from the aircraft.

Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity under regulations. The statement from the Egyptian aviation authority says the MS181 is an Airbus and that it has 55 passengers on board and five crew members. The last high-profile hostage drama involving an Egypt Air plane ended badly.

In 1985, three Palestinian members of the Abu Nidal took control of EgyptAir Flight 648 from Athens to Cairo. The pilot was forced to land in Malta against the wishes of Maltese authorities, and a stand-off commenced. The plane stood on the run way for 24 hours as hijackers released some passengers but shot dead others. When commandos stormed the plane, a hail of gunfire ensued, in which at least 50 of the 80-odd passengers were killed.

12: 50 pm  Hijacker frees all passengers except 4 foreigners

In a statement issued in Arabic, EhyptAir said negotiated release of all aboard hijacked plane except four foreigners and the crew”. 

Negotiations with the kidnapped result in the release of all the passengers, except the crew and four foreigners.

— EGYPTAIR (@EGYPTAIR) March 29, 2016

Passengers on the EgyptAir plane that was diverted to Cyprus included eight Britons and 10 Americans, three security sources at Alexandria airport said.

12:30 pm  Hijacker asks police to back away from aircraft, allows women and children to disembark

The hijacker who forced an EgyptAir flight heading to Cairo from Alexandria to land in Cyprus is thought to be strapped with explosives, Cyprus broadcaster CYBC said on Tuesday.

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

AP quoted Cypriot official as saying EgyptAir plane hijackers allow women, children to leave; some are now disembarking the aircraft.

12:25 pm:  Egypt Air hijacker threatened to detonate explosives belt

egypt’s aviation 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

EgyptAir in a statement confirmed that there were 81 passengers on board. 

12:15 pm: AFP is reporting that hijackers contacted the control tower at 8:30 am (0530 GMT) and the plane was given permission to land at 8:50 am, the police said.

The hijackers made no immediate demands and a crisis team has been deployed to the airport. 

12:10 pm : In a tweet, Egyptair confirmed the hijacking of Egypt air MS181. It said it will issue a statement shortly.

12:00 pm An Egyptair domestic flight MS181 from Alexandria to Cairo was hijacked on Tuesday and landed in Cyprus, state radio said.

The Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation reported that 55 people were on board, with a crew of 7. There were earlier reports of about 80 to 81 people on board.

At least one man was thought to be armed. The hijacking occurred in Cyprus’s flight information region and the airliner was diverted to Larnaca.

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