An EgyptAir domestic flight from Alexandria to Cairo was hijacked and landed in Cyprus, according to Egypt’s civil aviation authority. A statement from the Egyptian aviation authority said the MS181 is an Airbus and that it had 55 passengers onboard, apart from five crew members. Latest tweet updates on the hijacking said that a majority of the passengers have been released while a few foreigners and the crew members are held captive. Egypt’s civil aviation ministry said that the pilot of the plane was threatened by a passenger strapped with explosives: pilot Omar al-Gammal had informed the authorities that he was threatened by a passenger who had a suicide belt and forced him to land in Larnaca.
The Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation reported that 55 passengers were onboard and a crew of seven. The hijacking occurred in Cyprus’s flight information region and the airliner was diverted to Larnaca. The hijacker asked the police to stay away from the aircraft. Israel scrambled warplanes in its airspace in response to the plane hijacking, according to an Israeli military source. The plane was an Airbus 320, the aviation ministry said.
The 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.
Except for four foreigners and crew members, all others travelling on the hijacked Egyptian plane have been released at a Cyprus airport after negotiations with at least one hijacker, Egypt Air claimed. Meanwhile, the Egyptian media identified one hijacker of the plane as Ibrahim Samaha.