Special task forces surrounded plane in Pretoria - eyewitness

2016-07-11 14:30
The Airlink plane on the runway at Wonderboom Airport. (Supplied)

The Airlink plane on the runway at Wonderboom Airport. (Supplied)

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Pretoria - An eyewitness at Wonderboom Airport in Pretoria said that a large number of the police's Special Task Force vehicles surrounded an Airlink plane that was reported as hijacked on Monday.

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SA Airlink spokesperson Karin Murray confirmed that the hijack alert for flight SA8678 from Cape Town to Wonderboom appeared to be an anomaly.

"Seventy two passengers and four crew members are safe. Operations are back to normal," she said.

A statement on the website said the aircraft "emitted an anomalous hijack alert through its transponder".

An eyewitness, who was at the airport for work and asked not to be named, said he and a colleague noticed a large police presence on the runway.

He noted about 14 vehicles, three of which were from special forces. He also saw bomb unit, medical emergency and fire vehicles.

Passengers, crew safe

"Special forces is basically now driving to the back of the runway trying to surround the plane. They are driving past quite frenetically. There are a lot of lights flashing," he told News24 on Monday afternoon.

"One of our guys has a radio that can pick up all the frequencies. We heard surrounding aircraft were being diverted to Lanseria. They are saying it is a technical error on the radar system or towers communication."

The online statement said passengers and crew were safe on the ground "where authorities have held the aircraft as a prescribed precautionary measure while they verify that all is in good order".

Airlink said it would assist authorities with their inquiry, a mandatory step following such incidents.

"Airlink has also initiated an internal investigation into the erroneous transmission."

Parts of Wonderboom Airport was cordoned off with police tap. (Daniel Shelley) 

Read more on:    sa airlink  |  pretoria  |  air travel  |  hijackings

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