Hijacked EgyptAir plane lands in Cyprus

EgyptAir Boeing 737-800 airplane. Photo: Wo st 01/Wikipedia (used under the Creative Commons licence)

An EgyptAir passenger plane en route from Alexandria to Cairo was hijacked and forced to make an emergency landing in Cyprus, according to sources in civil aviation ministry and police.

The Airbus 320 was said to be on route from Burj El Arab airport in Alexandria to Cairo when the hijacker struck at 8.30 local time (6.30 UK time).

Eight British people and ten Americans are believed to be on board and Cyprus state radio has reported that altogether there are between 80-81 people on board the airliner.

In a statement, the ministry said pilot Omar al-Gammal had informed authorities that he was threatened by a passenger who was wearing a suicide belt and forced him to land in Larnaca.

Subsequent reports claim that the hijacker is asking for political asylum and police have been asked to back off from the aircraft.

Update: It has been reported that some passengers are disembarking and military jets are visible patrolling the airspace above the airport.