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Live: At least four more people leave hijacked EgyptAir plane

An EgyptAir passenger plane en route from Alexandria to Cairo was hijacked and landed in Cyprus , agencies reported on Tuesday.

world Updated: Mar 29, 2016 16:59 IST
Passengers evacuate a hijacked EgyptAir Airbus 320 plane at Larnaca airport, Cyprus, March 29, 2016.(REUTERS)

A man thought to be strapped with explosives hijacked an Egyptian plane on a flight between Alexandria and Cairo on Tuesday and forced it to land in Cyprus, Egyptian officials said.

After the EgyptAir plane landed at Larnaca airport, the hijacker released all the people onboard except four foreign passengers and crew members, EgyptAir said.

About 60 people, including seven crew, had been onboard, Egyptian and Cypriot officials said.

Cyprus broadcasting (CYBC) reported that the hijacker may have personal motives. He had an ex-wife in Cyprus, CYBC said.

“The negotiations with the hijacker have resulted in the release of all the plane passengers with the exception of the crew and five foreigners,” the airline said in a statement, but it later changed the figure to four foreigners still held.

4.59pm - At least four more people leave hijacked EgyptAir plane.

4.40pm - Cyprus police have evacuated a stretch of beach near the Larnaca airport tarmac where the hijacked EgyptAir passenger jet is parked. The standoff at the airport is continuing with the hijacker and seven passengers and crew remaining on the plane.

4.15pm - Cyprus’ foreign ministry on Tuesday identified the hijacker as Seif Eldin Mustafa in a tweet. It did not provide further details.

“The situation is still ongoing,” it said. Earlier, two Cypriot broadcasters reported the hijacker had dropped a letter on the apron of Larnaca airport that appeared to be demanding the release of prisoners in Egypt.

Eygptian state media had earlier identified the hijacker as a different man.

3:47 pm The hijacker of an EgyptAir airplane that was diverted to Cyprus on Tuesday has asked for the release of female prisoners in Egypt, the Cyprus state broadcaster reported.

All but seven people on board the aircraft, which was traveling from Alexandria to Cairo, have been released. The pilot had reported that the hijacker was strapped with explosives, but Egyptian authorities have not confirmed this.

3:03 pm: Everyone on board a hijacked EgyptAir flight diverted to Cyrus on Tuesday has been released except for four crew members and three passengers, Egypt’s civil aviation minister said.

Sherif Fathy told a press conference that the captain, an assistant, an air hostess and a security man remained on board, along with the three passengers.

The minister also said that Egypt is sending a plane to Cyprus to pick up stranded passengers.

The official also said that the hijacker’s demands remain unknown, or at least cannot be stated publicly.

2:55 pm

The hijacker of the EgyptAir plane has an estranged Cypriot wife who has been brought to Larnaca airport to negotiate with him.

The woman lives in the village of Oroklini not far from the airport, AFP reported quoting sources.

Mustafa Bakry, an Egyptian MP, said on Twitter that Samaha was a visiting professor at the University of Atlanta in the US.

The spokesman, Hossam al-Queish, also told the private CBC TV network that authorities could not confirm that the hijacker, identified as Egyptian national Ibrahim Samaha, had explosives on him.

The channel also showed a photo of Samaha standing in what appears to be the back of an aircraft. He was said to be a doctor.

- Officials at the Egyptian airport from which the hijacked EgyptAir aircraft took off and was taken to Cyprus say the hijacker is a native of the Egyptian Mediterranean city of Alexandria and a dual Egyptian-American citizen.

- Egyptian officials have earlier identified the hijacker as Ibrahim Samaha, a veterinarian.

- Cyprus’ president says the EgyptAir hijacking incident is “not something which has to do with terrorism.”

- Nicos Anastasiades says the government of Cyprus is doing its utmost so that all passengers on the EgyptAir flight that has been hijacked are safe. He spoke on the sidelines of a meeting Tuesday with the president of the European Parliament.

- Anastasiades says “we are doing our utmost in order for everyone to be released and safe and to give an end to this unprecedented (incident). In any case it is not something which has to do with terrorism.”


- The hijacker of an EgyptAir flight, Ibrahim Abdel Tawwab Samaha, is a professor of veterinary medicine at Alexandria University, a staff list on the university website shows. Samaha is head of the department of food health, the site shows.


- EgyptAir hijacker demands to see estranged Cypriot wife, says Cyprus government official.

- The woman lives in the village of Oroklini not far from the airport, the source told AFP.

- At least five more people freed from hijacked EgyptAir.

- Hijacked EgyptAir plane carried 21 foreigners including 8 Americans: aviation ministry.

- EgyptAir said negotiations resulted in the release of all passengers on the hijacked Egyptian plane except for five foreigners and the crew.

In pics: EgyptAir plane hijacked, taken to Cyrus; passengers released

1:50 pm
- Egypt Air has released emergency numbers for more information on the hijacked plane:

- “For more information, please call 08007777000 from within the Republic of Egypt Arabic and 00202-25989320-29 from abroad,” Egypt Air said in a tweet.

1:45 pm
- Cyprus broadcasting (CYBC) reported that the hijacker of an EgyptAir plane that was forced to land in Cyprus on Tuesday may have personal motives.

- The hijacker had an ex-wife in Cyprus, CYBC said.

- Witnesses said the hijacker 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 Cypriot.

Media gather at Larnaca Airport near a hijacked Egyptair Airbus A320. (REUTERS)

1:20 pm

- EgyptAir hijacker is an Egyptian national - Egyptian State News Agency

- Cypriot state television is reporting that Egyptair flight MS181 hijacker identified as Ibrahim Samaha is asking for a translator and political asylum.

- Flights to Larnaca in the south were diverted to the Paphos airport in the west, the officials said, after Egyptian civil aviation said the hijacker had threatened to detonate an explosives belt on the EgyptAir plane.

1:00 pm
- Hijacked Egypt plane showed no sign of distress

- An official with a flight-tracking website says the EgyptAir flight that was hijacked on the way to Cairo showed no immediate signs of distress while in the air.

- Ian Petchenik, a spokesman for FlightRadar24, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that EgyptAir flight MS181 flew in a typical fashion on the Cyprus, without the pilots signaling any trouble via their transponder.

- Petchenik said: “It looks like a completely controlled flight aside from the fact it was hijacked.”

- Egyptian aviation authority says the flight is an Airbus jet, it was supposed to fly from Alexandria to Cairo on Tuesday morning.

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”.

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.

The hijacking occurred in Cyprus’s flight information region and the airliner was diverted to Larnaca. (Google Maps)

- 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.

First Published: Mar 29, 2016 11:56 IST