An EgyptAir plane travelling from Alexandria to Cairo, with nearly 80 people on board, was hijacked on Monday, according to officials. The passenger plane destined to Cairo, was forced to land at Larnaca International Airport in Cyprus. According to reports, the hijacked EgyptAir plane is an Airbus 320.
Here's what we know so far:
- EgyptAir MS181 was hijacked after leaving Alexandria and forced to divert to Cyprus.
- A spokesperson for the Egyptian government said the hijacker wanted to travel to Istanbul but decided on Cyprus when he was told there was not enough fuel for the journey.
- Egyptian authorities have named the suspected hijacker who allegedly threatened a pilot with a suicide bomb as Seif Eldin Mustafa.
- According to state television reports the Egyptian hijacker is 27-28 years old and had boarded the EgyptAir flight from Alexandria to Cairo on Tuesday morning. He had been sat in 38K in the flight.
- Earlier, Egyptian presidency spokesman had identified Ibrahim Samaha as the hijacker, and had said that he was Egyptian-American. However, it was later confirmed that Samaha was one of the passengers in the flight who was freed along with several others by the hijacker.
- According to initial reports, Mustafa was demanding a political asylum in Ciprus. However, another report from CYBC said that he wanted to see his estranged wife in Cyprus. Foreign Minister however has maintained that the exact motive behind the hijacking has not been cleared yet.
- According to Straitstimes, one of the witnesses said that the hijacker threw a letter on the apron of the airport in Larnaca, written in Arabic, asking that it be delivered to his ex-wife, Marina Parashkou, who is Cypriot. She is reported to have arrived at the airport.
- Egypt’s Civil Aviation Ministry said the plane’s pilot Omar al-Gammal had intimated the authorities that he was threatened by a passenger wearing a suicide belt and forced him to land in Larnaca.
- Cyprus state broadcaster has reported that the hijacker has asked for release of female prisoners in Egypt, according to Reuters in exchange of safety of four crew members and three passengers, who are on board hijacked plane.
- The nationalities of the three foreign hostages remaining on board remains unclear.