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Egypt confirms hijacking of EgyptAir flight with 81 passengers

By Faeza
29 March 2016

EgyptAir+hijack

A domestic EgyptAir flight from Alexandria to Cairo was hijacked on Tuesday with 81 passengers on board and has landed at Larnaca International Airport in Cyprus, Egypt's Civil Aviation Ministry said in a statement.

The pilot of EgyptAir flight 181, Captain Amr al-Jamal, informed air traffic control that the flight had been threatened by a passenger claiming to be wearing an explosive belt and diverted to Cyprus, the Ministry says.

There were 81 passengers on board the Airbus 320, the Ministry says, contradicting earlier statements by Egyptian officials that it was carrying 55 passengers and crew.

The hijacker, who may or may not have been working with accomplices, requested that women and children of Egyptian background disembark the aircraft after landing, Cyprus' state broadcaster RIK reported, citing government officials.

Larnaca airport, located on Cyprus' southern coast, has been closed until further notice, according to the RIK report. All flights to Cyprus have been diverted to Paphos in the west of the island.

Cyprus has opened a crisis hotline for those involved in the incident.

The incident comes as Cairo hopes Moscow will relent on a flight ban imposed after a Russian jet returning from the Egyptian resort of Sharm al-Sheikh exploded, killing all 224 people on board.

The explosion was claimed by the Islamic State extremist group and led Russia to ban all direct flights to Egypt, a critical blow to the country's beleaguered tourism sector which has been largely reliant on Russian customers in recent years.

Source: DPA