Breaking now: Egyptians released, Western passengers being held hostage.
FD Update 2:44 AM PST: CNN is reporting that Ibrahim Samaha is NOT the hijacker as previously reported. Apparently the hijacker is Seif El Din Mustafa, an Egyptian national. Situation fluid.
FD Update 1:35 AM PST: The hijacker has been identified as Egyptian national, Ibrahim Samaha. Apparently he is a doctor, and he wants a letter sent to his (estranged) wife. He wanted to go to Istanbul, Turkey, but the pilot told him there wasn’t enough fuel. The hijacker may want asylum, although, he is still holding foreigners (Westerners) and the flight crew hostage. Some news commentators have speculated that he wants to get a letter to his wife because he may be planning to detonate the suicide belt. The president of Cyprus has stated this is not related to terrorism.
A Reuters reporter has tweeted this, citing unnamed Egyptian reports as saying there are eight UK citizens and 10 US nationals on the plane. This has yet to be confirmed.
— Stephen Kalin (@stephenkalin) March 29, 2016
— Sky News (@SkyNews) March 29, 2016
Freedom Daily – It should be noted that a Russian Metrojet airliner flying out of Egypt was blown up by an ISIS terrorist last October. 224 people were killed. Security at Egyptian airports is notoriously lax.
Via The Guardian UK – An EgyptAir plane has been hijacked flying from Alexandria to Cairo, and has landed in Cyprus, according to officials in Egypt and Cyprus.
A Cypriot official told AP the plane landed at Larnaka airport, and that a suspected bomb is on board.
Associated Press quoted another Cypriot official as saying it appeared there was more than one hijacker on the plane. The official said there had been no demands other than that police vehicles moved away from the aircraft.
A statement from Egypt’s aviation authority said the flight, MS181, is an Airbus and has 55 passengers on board and five crew members.
Our flight MS181 is officially hijacked. we'll publish an official statement now. #Egyptair
— EGYPTAIR (@EGYPTAIR) March 29, 2016
— RT (@RT_com) March 29, 2016
A screengrab from the Flightradar24 website shows the tracked movement of the flight to Cyprus.
The Cyprus Mail website quoted a Cyprus police spokesman, Andreas Angelides, as saying one armed hijacker had taken control of the Airbus A320 before it diverted to Larnaka.
Angelides was quoted as saying there was no news yet about whether the hijacker was demanding anything specific, or if he was a member of an organisation.
According to an alert from Reuters, the hijack took place when the pilot of the plane was threatened by a passenger who appeared to have a suicide bomb belt, according to Egypt’s aviation ministry.
An aviation Twitter feed has posted what it says is a (distant) photograph of the hijacked plane on the ground.
— AIRLIVE (@airlivenet) March 29, 2016
Reuters has more news of the eight Briton and 10 Americans reportedly among the passengers, quoting three airport security sources as saying this is the case.
Reactions from Twitter:
A man "strapped" with explosives on this #EgyptAir plane. How does he get on? This world – absolute toilet! ??????????
— Kevin Pietersen (@KP24) March 29, 2016
— Yaza Min Htwè (@YazaMinHtway) March 29, 2016