BREAKING NEWS: EgyptAir flight hijacked, taken to Cyprus…Israeli Air Force on HIGH ALERT
Most of the passengers and crew who were on board a hijacked Egyptian plane diverted to Cyprus have been freed.
EgyptAir Flight MS181 was taken over after a passenger claimed to be wearing a suicide explosive belt.
Cypriot officials have named him as Seif Eldin Mustafa. Reports say he wants to talk to his estranged wife in Cyprus, and the Cypriot president says the hijack is not a terrorist incident.
But others say he is demanding the release of female prisoners in Egypt.
Egypt’s Civil Aviation Minister Sherif Fathy told a news conference that seven people remained on board the jet.
Sherif Fathy identified them as the pilot, the co-pilot, a female stewardess, a security officer and three passengers whose nationalities he refused to divulge.
But later EgyptAir tweeted that nine people remained on board, including three passengers and the hijacker, with a separate statement from the airline mentioning that “four foreign passengers” were still on board.
And the latest pictures from the scene showed at least three people leaving the aircraft – one of whom appeared to jump from a cockpit window.
A statement from the civil aviation ministry said the 26 foreigners originally on board included eight Americans, four Britons, four Dutch citizens, two Belgians, two Greeks, a French national, an Italian and a Syrian. Three other foreigners could not be identified.
Mr Fathy said negotiations with the hijacker – who had made no specific demands – were continuing, and that it was unclear whether the hijacker had taken explosives on board or was bluffing.
An aircraft was being sent to Larnaca to pick up the passengers who had been released, Mr Fathy added.
Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said: “We are doing our utmost in order for everyone to be released and safe.”
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