An Egypt Air Flight MS181 has been hijacked by one Seif Eldin Mustafa who has claimed to be wearing a suicide explosive belt.
The aircraft, an Airbus A320, carrying 56 passengers from Alexandria to Cairo, along with six crew and a security official was forced to divert to Larnaca airport in Cyprus.
Unfolding information reaching NFD is that most of the passengers and crew who were on board the aircraft have been freed.
Confirming the report, EgyptAir announced that one of its flights, MS181 from Alexandria to Cairo has been hijacked.
The statement read, “The aircraft with 56 passengers and crew has been diverted to Larnaca Airport, Cyprus where it landed following a threat from a passenger believed to be strapped with explosives.”
Some reports say the hijacker wants to talk to his estranged wife in Cyprus, and the Cypriot president has said the hijack is not a terrorist incident.
But others say he is demanding the release of female prisoners in Egypt.
Egypt’s civil aviation minister told a news conference that seven people remained on board the jet.
Chairman of EgyptAir, Sherif Fathy identified them as the pilot, the co-pilot, a female stewardess, a security officer and three passengers whose nationalities he refused to divulge.
He said negotiations with the hijacker – who had made no specific demands – were continuing, and that it was unclear whether the hijacker had taken explosives on board or whether he was bluffing.
An aircraft was being sent to Larnaca to pick up the passengers who had been released, Mr Fathy added.
A statement from the Egyptian Civil Aviation Ministry statement said the 26 foreigners on board included eight Americans, four Britons, four Dutch citizens, two Belgians, two Greeks, a French national, an Italian, and a Syrian. Three other foreigners could not be identified.
“The pilot said that a passenger told him he had an explosives vest and forced the plane to land in Larnaca,” the Egyptian civil aviation ministry said in a statement.
Larnaca airport, on the south coast of Cyprus, has been closed and scheduled flights diverted elsewhere.