Cairo, Egypt (BBN)-An Egyptian airliner has been hijacked and diverted to Cyprus, triggering a hostage situation at Larnaca airport on the island’s south coast.
The EgyptAir MS181 flight was heading from the Mediterranean coastal city of Alexandria to Cairo with 81 passengers on board when it was seized, Egypt’s civil aviation authority said, reports The Guardian.
The airline released a statement saying everyone on board had been released except for the crew and four foreign nationals.
It was not immediately clear how many hijackers were involved. Egypt’s civil aviation authority said the hijacker or hijackers had threatened to detonate an explosives belt.
Cyprus police said the control tower was contacted at 8.30am (05.30am GMT) and the plane was given permission to land at 8.50am.
Airport security sources told Reuters eight Britons and 10 Americans were on the flight.
A crisis team was deployed to the airport, the main entry point for tourists to the Mediterranean resort island.
There were no immediate demands, Cypriot state television reported.
The hijacking is likely to bring to the fore again the question of security at Egyptian airports, five months after a Russian aircraft crashed over Egypt’s Sinai peninsula minutes after it took off from Egypt’s Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.
All 224 people on board were killed in the crash. Russia later said an explosive device brought down the aircraft and the extremist Islamic State group said it downed the plane.