BREAKING: At least one armed hijacker seized control of an EgyptAir flight from Alexandria to Cairo and ordered it flown to Cyprus Tuesday morning, according to officials from both countries.
A Cypriot government official told the Associated Press the hijacked plane landed at the airport in Larnaka, on the southern coast of the Mediterranean island, 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.
Another Cypriot official said that women and children on board the aircraft were being allowed to leave and had begun to disembark.
Sky News reported that the short-haul Flight 181 took off from Alexandria at 8 a.m. local time. A hijacker contacted the control tower in Lanarka 30 minutes later and was given permission to land.
Reuters, citing Egypt’s Civil Aviation Ministry, reported that one of the passengers, who appeared to be strapped with suicide belt, threatened the plane’s pilot.
A statement from the Egyptian aviation authority said the Airbus A320 plane, Flight 181, has 55 passengers on board and five crew members.
Sky News reported that a number of ambulances were sent to the airport to meet the plane as it landed at approximately 8:45 a.m. local time (1:45 a.m. ET).
The hijacking will most likely bring to the fore again the question of security at Egyptian airports, five months after a Russian aircraft crashed over Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula minutes after it took off from Egypt’s Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. All 224 people on board were killed in the crash. Russia later said an explosive device brought down the aircraft and the extremist Islamic State group (ISIS) said it downed the plane.
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