2016-03-29 17:26:00

Cyprus airport drama ends

(Vatican Radio) The hijack of an Egyptian jetliner, which was forced to land in Cyprus with 55 passengers and seven crew onboard has ended peacefully.

Nathan Morley reports from Cyprus: 

The domestic flight from Alexandria to Cairo -  Egyptair MS181 –diverted to Cyprus at 8.30 on Tuesday morning.

The hijacker – identified as Seif El Din Mustafa – is an Egyptian national, according to Cypriot authorities.

Mustafa claimed to be wearing a suicide vest - but his motives for seizing the aircraft remain unclear.

Most of the passengers were released from the jet just an hour after arrival at Larnaca Airport, the remaining passengers – including the captain and crew - managed to escape the plane several hours later, one via the cockpit window.

The hijacker finally surrendered himself to police soon after, disembarking the plane at 2.40pm local time with his hands up.

It was originally reported that Mustafa wanted to talk to his ex-wife, a Cypriot, who lives near the airport, while other media reports suggested he was seeking the release of female prisoners held in Egyptian prisons.

A Foreign Ministry official in Nicosia said the hijack was not a terrorist act but "a personal act" by an emotionally volatile person.

Passengers have been interviewed by police and are now in contact with consular authorities, many hoping to travel to their intended destinations.

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades congratulated all involved emergency services for their coordinated efforts and successful outcome of the hijacking.

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