Officials say Egyptian plane hijacked, lands in Cyprus

Authorities attempt to negotiate with a hijacker who threatened crew with explosives unless they landed Airbus flight MS181 in Cyprus. [Credit: CBS News]

UPDATES: [Cairo local time]

11:16 AM — A report by the Associated Press says a civil aviation official speaking on condition of anonymity says the man gave negotiators the name of a woman who lives in Cyprus and asked to give her an envelope. Unconfirmed reports say the woman may be the man’s ex wife.

Egypt’s Civil Aviation Minister says during a press conference seven people remain on plane with hijacker: four crew and three passengers. This is a change to the original estimate that four passengers and five crew remained on board EgyptAir flight MS181.

10:15 AM — A high ranking official within the Egyptian government says the hijacker has hinted during negotiations that his actions may have been motivated by “a personal matter involving a woman.”

Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades says the hijacking is not related to “terrorism.”

9:50 AM — An official with a flight-tracking website says the EgyptAir flight that was hijacked on the way to Cairo showed no immediate signs of distress while in the air.

FlightRadar24 spokesman Ian Petchenik tells The Associated Press the EgyptAir flight MS181 flew in a typical fashion without the pilots signaling any trouble via their transponder.

Petchenik says, “It looks like a completely controlled flight aside from the fact it was hijacked.

9:40 AM — EgyptAir says four foreigners and the flight crew remain onboard a hijacked flight.

A Cyprus official says 56 people on board the hijacked EgyptAir plane have been released and have left the aircraft.

The state carrier of Egypt announces on Twitter the release came after negotiations with the unidentified hijacker of the flight.

The Egyptian aviation authority says the flight, coded MS181, is an Airbus jet. It earlier said there were 81 passengers on board and five crew members but there are conflicting reports on those figures. Officials say the plane was supposed to fly from Alexandria to Cairo on Tuesday morning.

No group has claimed responsibility for the hijacking.

9:15 AM — A statement by Egypt’s Ministry of Civil Aviation says the hijacker of the Egyptian airplane forced to fly to Cyprus has claimed to have an explosives belt on him.

The authority says explosives would suggest that the hijacker is an Islamic militant. Suicide belts have been a weapon of choice for Islamic militants in the Mideast.

The plane landed in Larnaca in Cyprus after which the hijackers allowed some women and children to leave.

8:30 AM — Egypt’s civil aviation authority says an EgyptAir plane has been hijacked while flying from the Egyptian coastal city of Alexandria to the capital, Cairo.

A Cypriot government official says the hijacked plane landed on Tuesday morning at the airport in Larnaka 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.

Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity under regulations.

The statement from the Egyptian aviation authority says the MS181 is an Airbus and that it has 55 passengers on board and five crew members.

——–

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) — An EgyptAir plane has been hijacked while flying from the Egyptian coastal city of Alexandria to the capital, Cairo.

Government officials in Cyprus say the hijacked plane landed Tuesday morning at an airport in Larnaka, on the southern coast of Cyprus. They say there are suspicions of a bomb on board and there “seems like there’s more than one hijacker.”

Officials say there have been no demands other than that police vehicles move away from the aircraft.

Egyptian aviation officials say there are about 60 passengers and crew on the plane but cannot confirm the number for sure.

This is a developing story. Stay with WRBL News3 for updates.

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