From the beginning, the hijacking incident appeared slightly odd. Even odder, however, were the circumstances that led one man to take an entire plane hostage and claim that he had an “explosive belt” around him. Here’s what Morning News USA knows about the events that unfolded during the hijacking of EgyptAir flight MS181.
EgyptAir flight MS181 was supposed to be a routine flight. The passengers and crew took off from Borg El-Arab Airport in Alexandria to fly to the Cairo Airport onboard an Airbus A320 for a flight that would last less than hour. As the plane took off, however, it became clear that the flight would be anything but routine.
Onboard, one male passenger decided to take matters into his own hands and hijack the plane. Airline pilot Omar al-Gammal told authorities that passenger Seif El Din Mustafa threatened him while on the air as he claimed to be wearing an explosive belt. He forced the flight to be diverted on Larnaca airport in Cyprus. Meanwhile, EgyptAir immediately confirmed the situation that was unfolding in one of their flight. In a brief statement, the airline said, “Our flight MS181 is officially hijacked.”
Despite the situation, flight MS181 managed to land safely in Cyprus. According to a report from the Associated Press, FlightRadar24 spokesman Ian Petchenik even said the pilots did not even used the transponder to signal any trouble.
Negotiations with the hijacker also began almost immediately after the flight landed. Hours later, all of the plane’s passengers were freed with the exception of the flight crew and four foreign passenger. According to EgyptAir, the flight had 56 passengers along with seven crew members and one security member.
Later on, Gamal would tell Reuters that the hijacker seemed “abnormal.” In the midst of the standoff, reports emerged that Mustafa may have done the hijacking because of his ex-wife. Moreover, Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail also said it was difficult to determine Mustafa’s real motives for hijacking the plane. ” At some moments he asked to meet with a representative of the European Union and at other points he asked to go to another airport but there was nothing specific,” he remarked. A senior Cyprus official said the incident was not related to terrorism.
After some time, the remaining hostages had been freed and Mustafa was taken in custody. As for the hijacked crew and passengers, they were soon flown to Cairo onboard EgyptAir flight 742. Upon arrival, the crew was all smiles. They were welcomed by Prime Minister Ismail.
صور من استقبال الركاب وطاقم الطائرة في مطار القاهرة. pic.twitter.com/MHdUi1BUyV
— EGYPTAIR (@EGYPTAIR) March 29, 2016