All hostages freed, hijacker arrested - As it happened

2016-03-29 08:38

An Egypt Air plane was hijacked and forced to land in Cyprus. All passengers were freed and the hijacker arrested. Get all the details about this incident here.

IN SUMMARY: - Egypt Air domestic flight 181 from Alexandria to Cairo was hijacked on Monday morning. The hijacker had apparently demanded that the plane land in Cyprus at Larnaca Airport.

- Various reports had emerged about both the numbers of people on board the plane as well as the name of the suspect.

- 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.

- It was later cited that the hijacker's reasoning was personal and to do with his ex-wife.

- Over the course of several hours, people on board the plane were released.

- By 14:00 SA time, Egypt Air and Cypriot government officials confirmed that all passengers had been released and the hijacker, whose identity has still not been confirmed, arrested.

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Last Updated at 12:31
29 Mar 14:01
Official sources at EGYPT AIR declared the release of all the hostages and the arrest of the hijacker, the airline has tweeted.

29 Mar 13:52
BREAKING: Cypriot minister of foreign affairs has confirmed that the hijacker has been arrested.

29 Mar 13:48
Some reports suggesting that the hijacker has been arrested but this hasn't yet been confirmed.

29 Mar 13:44
Reuters are reporting that a fifth person was seen leaving. This would mean at least two people remain on the plane.

29 Mar 13:42
The concerned departments are working on issuing the landing authorization for an aircraft to depart from Cairo Airport to Larnaca, Egypt Air has tweeted.

29 Mar 13:30
At least four more people seen leaving the hijacked Egypt Air plane - AFP

29 Mar 13:27
Cypriot TV footage shows individual climbing from Egypt Air cockpit window, reports Sky News's Kay Burley. It's unclear who this individual is.

29 Mar 13:23

29 Mar 13:00
News agencies are again stating the apparent name of the suspect but again the suspect's identity hasn't been verified.

29 Mar 12:51
Reuters is now reporting that Cairo Airport officials are delaying the departure of a New York-bound flight due to security fears.

29 Mar 12:38
Local media in Cyprus and Egypt seem to be adding further confusion to the situation as Cypriot state media are now reporting that the hijacker was demanding that female prisoners be released.

29 Mar 12:35
So just to confirm, there are seven people with the hijacker on the plane. The nationalities of the three passengers are unknown.

29 Mar 12:24

AP now reports: The hijacker's motivation was unclear, but Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades said the hijacking was "not something that has to do with terrorism" and a Cyprus government official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation, said the man "seems (to be) in love".

A civil aviation official, also speaking on condition of anonymity because he wasn't allowed to disclose details of ongoing negotiations, said the man gave negotiators the name of a woman who lives in Cyprus and asked to give her an envelope. It's unclear what relationship she and the man have.


29 Mar 12:13
It now turns out that the man named by Egyptian authorities as the suspected hijacker of the Egypt Air plane was in fact a passenger and not the suspect.

29 Mar 11:42
Egyptian transport minister says he will not reveal to the media the nationalities of the passengers still on board due to the sensitivity of the situation.

29 Mar 11:38
The captain, captain's assistant, two flight attendants and three passengers are still on the plane.

29 Mar 11:32

EWN has confirmed the South African passengers as Archbishop Damaskinos and Bishop Nicodimus Boulaksis.

The Orthodox Greek priests were in Egypt with the archbishop where Boulaksis was ordained on Sunday, it was reported.


29 Mar 11:25
Seven people are still on board the plane, including three foreigners, Sky News is reporting.

29 Mar 11:09
BREAKING: Reports say that two South Africans, members of the Greek Orthodox Church were on board the plane.

29 Mar 10:55

The hijacker of an EgyptAir plane diverted to Cyprus has an estranged Cypriot wife he has demanded to see and who is being brought to Larnaca airport, a government source said.

The woman lives in the village of Oroklini not far from the airport, the source told AFP.


29 Mar 10:46

EgyptAir is offering those concerned about their loved ones several telephone numbers to call for more information.

EgyptAir says those within Egypt could call their emergency center at 0800 77 77 000, while those living abroad can call +20 2 259 893 2029.

An Egyptian government spokesman says the hijacker of an Egyptian aircraft forced to fly to Cyprus wanted to go to Istanbul but was told by the captain that he did not have enough fuel for the journey.

The director of the Alexandria airport, Hossni Hassan, says there were 26 foreigners on board, including eight Americans, four Britons, four Dutch, two Belgians, a French national, an Italian, two Greeks and one Syrian. He said three other foreigners could not be identified.


29 Mar 10:42
A few more people have been seen leaving the plane, says AFP.

29 Mar 10:25
To update: The hijacker is said to be Ibrahim Samaha, an Egyptian national and is 27-years-old.

29 Mar 10:23
The man had apparently written a four page letter that he wants delivered to his wife.

29 Mar 10:21
This image, purportedly of the hijacker, has been widely tweeted.

29 Mar 10:03

29 Mar 09:49

29 Mar 09:33

29 Mar 09:21
BREAKING: Ten people, all crew and five foreigners, are still on board, the airline has confirmed. All other passengers have been released.

29 Mar 09:17

According to Al Jazeera news, police have been told to back away from the aircraft.


29 Mar 09:10
Sky News is now reporting that between 20-30 Egyptian women and children have been freed.

29 Mar 09:09

Egypt Air is tweeting that the hijacker apparently got a belt with an explosive device on it.

The suspect allegedly threatened the pilot with the belt.


29 Mar 09:07
Negotiations with the hijacker has begun. It has been confirmed that there is at least one on board but it is unclear if there are more.

29 Mar 09:00

29 Mar 08:58

State broadcaster Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation is reporting that 55 people were on board, with a crew of 7. It was previously reported that 81 people were on board.

Other reports also say that there is at least one confirmed armed hijacker on board and that he is allowing Egyptian women and children to leave the plane.


29 Mar 08:51
The airline has now confirmed the hijacking.

29 Mar 08:42
It is also suspected that a bomb is on board the plane.

29 Mar 08:38

An Egypt Air plane carrying 82 passengers has landed at an airport in Cyprus after it was hijacked on Tuesday morning.

The details surrounding the incident are still unclear but reporters on social media said that the hijackers demanded that plane land at Larnaca Airport.

According to Reuters the plane was heading from Alexandria to Cairo, civil aviation sources and police said.

The sources said the plane was an Airbus 320.

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