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Hijacking Scare as Plane Forced to Land in Turkey

- Common Dreams staff

The man claimed there was a bomb on board the Pegasus Airlines aircraft. (Photo: ALAMY)A commercial airliner made an emergency landing in Istanbul on Friday after a passenger said there was bomb on board.

Some early reports said the man demanded the plane be diverted to Sochi, Russia where the Olympic Games are celebrating opening ceremonies today. Other officials speaking to news outlets said that this fact had not been confirmed.

"People are still inside but the pilot called security and gave them a signal that they can enter the plane. There is a translator - a Turkish man near the Ukrainian to calm him down," an airport official told Reuters.

According to CNN:

A Pegasus Airlines plane landed at an Istanbul airport Friday after a passenger "said that there was a bomb on board" and wanted the plane to land in Sochi, Russia, the site of the Winter Olympics, said officials with Turkey's Transportation Ministry.

"While the plane was in the air, one of the passengers said that there was a bomb on board and asked the plane to not land in Sabiha Gokcen (in Turkey) but rather to land in Sochi," Transportation Ministry official Habip Soluk said Friday on CNNTurk.

The Olympic Games began Thursday in Sochi amid intense security against potential terror attacks. Official opening ceremonies were being held Friday.

The 110 passengers are still on board the plane, a public diplomacy officer said Friday night in Turkey.

The alleged hijacker is of Ukrainian nationality, Soluk said.

The plane sent a hijacking signal, and after landing it was being held in a safe zone at Istanbul's Sabiha Gokcen Airport, Turkish state media outlet TRT reported.

The plane had been flying a route between Kharkov in Ukraine, and Istanbul, the Transportation Ministry representative

said. It wasn't clear in which city the flight started.

Reuters adds:

The passenger was believed to have drunk alcohol and was calmed down by the crew and persuaded to let the plane, a Boeing 737-800, land in Istanbul at 6:02 pm (1602 GMT), according to Dogan news agency.

An official from Turkey's transport ministry said there were 110 passengers on board and confirmed that a bomb threat had been made but said the plane had landed safely.

Security teams were continuing inspections on the plane, the ministry said in a statement.

Updates on Twitter:

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