Nicosia, March 29, 2016/ Independent Balkan News Agency
By Kyriacos Kyriacou
A hijacked EgyptAir plane made an emergency landing at Larnaca airport at 8.50 am. Flight MS-181 – an EgyptAir Airbus 320 en route from Alexandira to Cairo – landed at around 9:00 am in Larnaca airport.
72 passengers were initially on board. According to reports from the Cyprus Foreign Ministry 57 have now been released. Four or five foreigners and the crew of the flight remain on board. According to the Egypt Air, two bishops of the Patriarchate of Alexandria, Ianoupoleos Damascinos and Mitrias Nicodemos were among the passengers.
According to information, the hijacker was one and has asked to send a four-page letter to a Cypriot woman, who is believed to be his ex-wife from the village of Oroklini. The station reports that the woman is currently en route to Larnaca airport.
The station also reports that the pilot of flight MS-181 initially requested to be allowed to land the plane due to a lack of fuel. The true cause of the emergency landing was revealed on touchdown.
Egypt state television has said the hijacker’s is Ibrahim Samaha, but this is currently unconfirmed. The hijacker is asking for a translator and political asylum in Cyprus.
Police said that the air traffic control was informed at 8:30 am by the plane. The plane landed at Larnaca, and the Crisis Centre was immediately informed, the police added. Spokesperson for the Fire Squad, Leonidas Leonidou, has reported that fire trucks are standing by.
According to information, the hijacker has requested that no police or military forces approach the plane. Women and children of Egyptian origin were allowed to exit the plane at approximately 10 am.
An Egypt Air plane hijacking is underway at Larnaca Airport, with 55 passengers and seven crew members on board.
An airstair has been attached to the airplane and it is believed that up to 40 persons have been allowed off the plane and taken by airport shuttle to the main building. Two airport fire engines are parked near the aircraft.
According to the Police, the Control Tower of the airport informed the Police at 0830 local time about the hijacking.
The plane landed at 0850 at Larnaca Airport.
The Police are on high alert to handle the situation, and two crisis management centres have been set up, one at the airport and one in Nicosia.
It is believed that there are more than one hijackers, who have demanded that the Police withdraw from the airport.
Cyprus` Minister of Foreign Affairs has already contacted his Egyptian counterpart.
CNA has learned that the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, the Interior, Transport, Justice, and Defence are at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The plane is now parked at the edge of Larnaca Airport, near Mackenzie beach, and the Police have cordoned off the beach area near the airport.
EgyptAir has confirmed the hijacking of flight MS181 via twitter.
The Aviation Safety Network says on its website that the Airbus 320, flying from Alexandria to Cairo, has been hijacked and is now at Larnaca Airport.
President of the Republic of Cyorus Nicos Anastasiades and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi have spoken over the telephone, after Tuesday’s hijacking of an Egypt Air airplane, which landed at Larnaca Airport.
This was posted on Twitter by Government Spokesman Nicos Christodoulides.
Flights to Larnaca Airport redirected to Paphos
Hermes Airports is making arrangements so that all scheduled flights to Larnaca Airport are redirected to Paphos Airport, due to Tuesday`s hijacking of an Egyptair plane.
According to Hermes, if the situation is not resolved and Larnaca Airport does not reopen soon, some flights which were scheduled to depart from Larnaca will depart from Paphos.
MFA says crisis management in place for hijacking
The crisis management plans of the Republic of Cyprus were initiated from the beginning of the hijacking incident of an Egypt Air domestic flight, which landed at Larnaca Airport earlier this morning, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs says in a press release.
“Regarding the situation that is unfolding with the Egypt Air flight MSR181 that was hijacked and diverted to Larnaca International Airport, the competent crisis management plans of the Republic of Cyprus had been initiated from the beginning of the incident”, it says.
It adds that “a Ministerial Committee is handling the situation at the National Crisis Centre located at Ministry of Foreign Affairs” and that “direct communication was also established between the Centre and the Egyptian authorities”.
The Ministry says more detailed information will follow.
An Egyptian presidential spokesman has said the correct name of the EgyptAir Flight 181 hijacker is Seif El Din Mustafa, an Egyptian military official. It believed that he opposes the government of Sisi.
A journalist from Sahel and MENA news in Egypt has released a photo of a man on Twitter, claiming that he is hijacker.
After releasing the majority of the passengers, the highjacker has now begun to make demands. According to unverified information, the man is asking that women being held in Egyptian prisons should be set free. He has also asked for a translator and political asylum in Cyprus, as well as to be able to send a four-page letter to a Cypriot woman from the village of Oroklini, in Cyprus.
The woman – who is reported to be the hijacker’s ex-wife with whom he has four children – has currently arrived at Larnaca airport with a child, and is currently in contact with the hijacker.
Three passengers and four crew members are still on board the hijacked EgyptAir flight MS-181 which was forced to land at Larnaca Airport earlier today, Egyptian Civil Aviation Minister Sherif Fathy Ateyya has said. 72 passengers were initially on board the flight.
The hijacker of the EgyptAir flight MS-181 at Larnaca Airport has exited the plane and surrendered himself to local authorities,according an official statement of foreign ministry of Cyprus.
Immediately before his surrender, one person was seen jumping from the cockpit window, while another three exited the plane via the steps.
Both Larnaca International Airport and the surrounding areas – including nearby MacKenzie Beach – have been evacuated as six Egyptian negotiators have arrived at the airport to strengthen negotiations,
According to information, the hijacker did not have any explosive devices on him.
Police forces are expected to aboard the plane.