Reuters are quoting Cyprus reports that the alleged EgyptAir hijacker has emerged from the plane with his hands held up.
Flight 181 departed Borg El Arab Airport in Alexandria at 06:38 local time for a short flight to Cairo International Airport in carrying 55 passengers plus seven crew. After takeoff, the pilot was informed that a passenger claiming to be wearing an explosive belt demanded that the aircraft be flown to Cyprus.
The aircraft safely landed in Larnaca International Airport in Larnaca, Cyprus at 07:15 local time and stopped in a remote parking area.
A passenger reported that, during the flight, the flight attendants collected the passengers’ passports, which is unusual for a domestic flight. The plane then started gaining altitude; and it was announced that they were diverting to Larnaca.
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.
The hijacker initially released most passengers with four crew and three foreign nationals remaining on the aircraft, and demanded to see his estranged wife and sought asylum in Cyprus.
He was also photographed handing over a 4-page letter, reportedly to his wife. The hijacking was later believed not to be terrorist related, rather the hijacker wished to talk to his estranged wife.
CNN reported that the alleged hijacker is Seif El Din Mustafa, an Egyptian national. Initially, another person holding dual Egyptian and American citizenship was allegedly the perpetrator, but the man was released together with other passengers and denied his involvement.
Cypriot state media said that the hijacker wanted the release of female prisoners in Egypt.
According to the BBC, these are the key points:
– An EgyptAir plane lands at Larnaca airport in Cyprus after being hijacked
– Most passengers were released but a number were held on board
– Flight MS181 was on a domestic flight from Alexandria to Cairo
– Hijacker allegedly told the pilot he had an explosive belt
– Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades says the incident was not terror-related
– The apparent hijacker emerged from the plane with his hands in the air
Official sources at EgyptAir have also declared the release of all the hostages and the arrest of the hijacker.