EgyptAir plane (Photo: Arcturus / Wikimedia Commons) - Credit: EgyptAir plane (Photo: Arcturus / Wikimedia Commons)
Tuesday, 29 March 2016 - 10:32
Dutch man among passenger on hijacked EgyptAir flight
Update 11:45 a.m.: Another five people were released from the plane. Egyptian media reports that all passengers are now free, but several other news agencies still report that four or five foreign passengers and the crew are on the aircraft. EgyptAir's last update on the situation came at 9:45 a.m. when it said, "Negotiations with the Hijacker result in the release of all the passengers, except the crew and four foreigners." Update 11:55 a.m.: Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirms that a 56 year old Dutchman is still on board. The Ministry sent him a text message asking if he is well. A representative of the Dutch embassy in Nicosia is on the way to the airport. An EgyptAir flight was kidnapped by a man wearing a bomb belt on Tuesday morning. A Dutch man is one of the passengers still on board, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told NU.nl Flight MS181 was on its way on a domestic flight from Alexandria to Cairo when one of the passengers announced he was wearing a bomb belt. He demanded that the plane be landed on Cyprus, which it did. There were 81 passengers on board the flight, including the Dutchman, eight Brits and ten Americans. According to EgyptAir, all of the passengers were released from the hijacked plane, except for the crew and four or five "foreign" passengers. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed that the Dutch man is still on the plane. Egyptian state television identified the hijacker as 27 year old Egyptian-American man named Ibrahim Samaha, but a television broadcast from the BBC said they spoke with Samaha. The person told the BBC he is not a hijacker, but rather one of the freed passengers. The hijacker asked for a translator and political asylum. Reuters reports that he hijacked the plane for "personal reasons" - he has a girlfriend that lives in Cyprus. Samaha is a veterinary professor at the University of Alexandria. These reports have not been confirmed. Cypriot media reports that the hijacker demanded that "a letter be sent to a Greek Cypriot girl". Eyewitnesses told Al Arabiya that the hijacker threw a letter, written in Arabic, out of the parked plane. Flights to Larnaca airport in Cyprus are being diverted to Paphos, also in Cyprus. Larnaca is temporarily closed, according to NU. Cyprus president Nicos Anastasiades is not considering the hijacking a terrorist attack, Bloomberg reports. Those concerned about loved ones involved in the situation may reach out to a special call center set up with EgyptAir's cooperation. The number within Egypt is 0800 77 77 000, but dial +2 02 25989320-29 if you are outside the country, the airline said.