A hijacked Egyptian plane was forced to land in Cyprus. Some passengers have been released, but reports suggest some remain onboard.
The hijacker threatened to detonate an explosive vest which he said he had on board, the Egyptian civil aviation ministry said.
Latest reports from Cypriot media suggest there is just one hijacker who was motivated by “personal reasons” – his ex-wife is said to live in Cyprus – and may be seeking asylum, although this has not been confirmed.
“The Airbus A-320 carrying 81 passengers and flying between Alexandria and Cairo was hijacked. The pilot said that a passenger told him he had an explosives vest and forced the plane to land in Larnaca,” a ministry statement said.
Our flight MS181 is officially hijacked. we’ll publish an official statement now. #Egyptair
— EGYPTAIR (@EGYPTAIR) March 29, 2016
Reports suggest that an Irish person is among passengers on board.
The airline this morning confirmed flight MS181 had been hijacked and that it had been forced to land at Larnaca airport in Cyprus.
Cyprus News reports one Irishman is still on board. The director of the Alexandria airport, Hossni Hassan, says there were 26 foreigners on board, including eight Americans, four Britons, four Dutch, two Belgians, a French national, an Italian, two Greeks and one Syrian. He said three other foreigners could not be identified.
— Daily Mail Online (@MailOnline) March 29, 2016
Former European Commissioner for Education Androulla Vassiliou said the hijacker had first asked all police forces to leave the area in order to release women and children from the plane.
The Department of Foreign Affairs said it is “aware of reports” of an Irish person on board but was not in a position to confirm. It is understood its consular services team is working to ascertain whether any Irish citizens are involved.
Larnaca airport has been closed and all flights are being diverted.