At least five more people freed from hijacked EgyptAir have been released by the hijacker of a domestic EgyptAir flight, travelling from Alexandria (Greece) to Cairo.
The hijacker, identified as 27-year-old Egyptian Ibrahim Samaha,is asking for a translator and political asylum and also demands to see estranged Cypriot wife, the Cypriot state television reported. The release of the passengers has been confirmed by a spokesperson from the airline on Twitter.
The hijacker had acted due to “personal reasons”, media reports said.
The hijacking of an EgyptAir plane to Cyprus today is not related to terrorism, the island’s President Nicos Anastasiades said.
“The hijacking is not terrorism-related,” he told a joint news conference with the visiting president of the European Parliament Martin Schultz.
Anastasiades said the Cyprus government had done everything it could to ensure the safe release of the passengers, most of whom were reported to have been set free.
There were conflicting reports on the number of passengers and crew on board. Initial reports put the number at 81. But MENA news agency said the Flight 181 carried 56 passengers and eight crew on board.
The passengers included 30 Egyptians and 26 foreigners, including eight Americans and four Britons, airport officials in Alexandria were quoted as saying.
Shortly after it landed in Larnaca in Cyprus, almost all the passengers were let off. Videos showed them deboarding.
The Egyptian aviation ministry had earlier said the hijacker had threatened to detonate an explosives belt, forcing the captain to divert the flight to Cyprus.
Cypriot police said those in control of the aircraft had made no immediate demands after it landed in Larnaca.
The Larnaca airport was closed and all scheduled flights were diverted. Cypriot anti-terrorism units have been deployed at Larnaca airport to deal with the crisis.
Reports quote the police, saying that the hijacker contacted the control tower at 8:30 a.m (0530 GMT) and the plane was given permission to land at 8:50 am.