Most Passengers On Hijacked Egypt Air Flight Released
An Egypt Air Airbus A-320 sits on the tarmac of Larnaca Airport after it was hijacked and diverted to Cyprus on Tuesday.
Pilot reported hijacker wearing explosive belt: Ministry
Hijacking comes months after downing of Russian plane in Sinai
A hijacker who claimed he was wearing an explosive belt forced a domestic EgyptAir flight to land in Cyprus before releasing the majority of those on board, except four foreigners and seven crew.
EgyptAir flight 181 from Burg Al-Arab airport to Cairo landed in Larnaca. The Airbus 320 was carrying 81 passengers and seven crew members, the Egyptian Civil Aviation Ministry said in a statement. Cypriot authorities sent anti-terror forces to the airport, Sky News Arabia reported.
The hijacking was the latest blow to Egypt’s efforts to project an image of stability to attract tourism and investments five months after the downing of a Russian passenger plane over Sinai, an attack claimed by the Islamic State group. Militant attacks have surged since 2013, though they have been mostly confined to northern Sinai.
Tourism, a major source of foreign-currency receipts for Egypt, has struggled to recover since the downing of Russian Metrojet plane. Russian authorities suspended flights to Egypt after the attack, which led to a broad review of airport security in the country.
Global airline and airport security officials are on heightened alert after bombs ripped through the airport in Belgium’s capital Brussels last week. Asian airports had stepped up checks since the Paris terrorist attacks and the suspected bombing of the Russian aircraft over Sinai.
“Pilot Omar El-Gamal was informed that one of the passengers threatened that he had an explosive belt and forced the pilot to land in Larnaca,” EgyptAir said on Twitter.
The hijacker is an Egyptian national, state-run media reported.
An official with the Cypriot Ministry of Justice and Public Order said a crisis meeting was being held between the Foreign Ministry and the justice minister and with police. The official spoke on condition of anonymity, in line with policy. Egyptian Civil Aviation Ministry spokesman Ehab Raslan said authorities had set up a crisis room to deal with the incident and the presidents of both nations had been in contact, officials said.