Updates To The EgyptAir Hijacking As A Tense Standoff In Cyprus Unfolds
On Tuesday morning, EgyptAir Flight MS181 was hijacked while en route to Alexandria from Cairo and landed in nearby Cyprus. The Airbus A320 was carrying more than 50 people when its pilot was reportedly threatened by a person wearing a suicide belt.
Update: The hijack situation is over. The hijacker is in custody, and everybody on board the plane is safe.
Officials said they believe there was one hijacker, identified by CNN as Seif El Din Mustafa, an Egyptian national. Earlier reports misidentified Ibrahim Samaha, a professor at Alexandria University, as the hijacker. Samaha was reportedly just a passenger. Authorities said they did not think the hijacking was an act of terror, and there was also doubt over whether the hijacker had an explosive onboard. He reportedly had a personal grievance over his ex-wife who lives in Cyprus, and he apparently handed a letter to authorities to deliver to her. “Up to now we have not had any effective demands that we can announce,” Egypt's Minister of Civil Aviation Sherif Fathy Ateyya said in a press conference Tuesday midday.
In a statement, EgyptAir said, "It is following up with the concerned authorities in Cyprus through EgyptAir IOCC and negotiations are underway with the hijacker." Ateyya also said that everyone onboard had been released except for seven people: the pilot, co-pilot, a female crew member, a security officer, and three passengers. Officials declined to disclose information about the identities of those on board. Released passengers could be seen safely and calmly carrying their luggage off the plane.