EgyptAir Plane Hijacker Surrenders

All hostages were released unharmed after the plane was diverted to Cyprus.

29/03/2016 5:30 PM AEDT | Updated 30/03/2016 2:17 AM AEDT

• EgyptAir flight MSR181 was en route from Alexandria to Cairo when a man with fake explosives forced it to land on Cyprus.
• All passengers have been released and the hijacker has been arrested.
• The president of Cyprus said the hijacking was not terrorism-related.

The man who hijacked an EgyptAir flight from Alexandria to Cairo on Tuesday has been arrested and all hostages are free, the airline said.

The hijacker, identified as Seif Eldin Mustafa, emerged from the aircraft after several hours with his hands in the air as he surrendered to police, state TV reported.

“It’s over,” the Cypriot Foreign Ministry announced at 2:41 p.m local time.

Earlier, the hijacker had released everyone on board except four crew members and three passengers, Egypt's civil aviation minister said. Local TV footage later showed them finally leaving the plane. One man climbed out of the cockpit window and slid off the aircraft, The Associated Press reported.

The jet, an Airbus A320, was forced to land at Larnaca International Airport on the island of Cyprus, about 377 miles from Cairo. The airline said at least 81 people were reportedly on board.

Yiannis Kourtoglou / Reuters
A man thought to be the hijacker leaves the hijacked Egyptair Airbus A320 at Larnaca Airport in Larnaca, Cyprus, on Tuesday.

The hijacker was reportedly strapped with explosives when he demanded the pilot reroute the aircraft, Egypt's civil aviation ministry said in a statement. EgyptAir officials later announced that the explosive belt was turned out to be fake.

There were conflicting reports for the motive of the hijack, but Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades said it was not terrorism-related.

When asked if a woman was involved, Anastasiades replied, "There is always a woman involved."

Cypriot state media also reported that the hijacker had asked to contact his ex-wife, who lives in Cyprus. 

No flights were arriving or departing from the airport in Cyprus at the time of writing, the BBC reported.
EgyptAir flight MSR181 was en route from Alexandria to Cairo, but landed at Larnaca International Airport on Cyprus.

The hijacking comes at a time of heightened concern over Egypt's flight security. In October, a Russian passenger plane broke in two when it crashed over Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula shortly after taking off, killing all 224 people on board. Russian authorities denied an Islamic State affiliate's claim that it took down the plane. The crash caused two major airlines to stop flying over the region due to safety concerns. 

A bus carrying some passengers from the hijacked EgyptAir aircraft as it landed at Larnaca airport.
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