‘I’m going to blow up this plane’: Man ‘claiming to have explosives’ tries to break into cockpit of packed Malaysia Airlines flight leaving Melbourne before passengers wrestle him to the floor
- Melbourne Airport in lock down after man reportedly attempts to hijack plane
- Malaysian Airlines flight MH128 took off from Melbourne flying to Kuala Lumpur
- It took off at 11.11pm on Wednesday and was forced to make emergency landing
- The man then attempted to enter the cockpit after claiming he had ‘explosives’
- Other passengers on the plane reportedly tackled the man and subdued him
- Plane is reportedly now sitting on the tarmac, awaiting the bomb disposal unit
A man claiming to be carrying a bomb attempted to hijack a flight and force his way into the plane’s cockpit, before other passengers wrestled him to the ground.
Images from inside Malaysia Airlines flight MH128, travelling from Melbourne to Kuala Lumpur, show flight staff using makeshift handcuffs to restrain the attacker and keep him pressed to the ground.
People on board witnessed the man attack an air hostess just minutes after take-off at 11.11pm on Wednesday, before he was heard shouting ‘I’m going to blow up this plane’.
Passengers then confronted the man and tackled him down to the ground, allowing the pilot to make a dramatic u-turn back to Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport.
Gun-wielding guards wearing camouflage and bullet-proof vests boarded the plane and detained the attacker, with all passengers disembarking the flight shortly before 2am.
Former AFL star Andrew Leoncelli was sitting in business class on the flight and was just metres from the man as he launched his attack.
Mr Leoncelli told The Age the man began attacking an air-hostess, ‘screaming’ at her that he ‘needed to see the captain’.
‘I’ve got a bomb and I’m going to f***ing blow the plane up,’ Leoncelli quoted the man as saying.
‘Literally he was eyeball to eyeball with me saying he was going to blow the plane up… he looked like a lunatic.’
A woman named Vanessa, whose boyfriend was a passenger onboard, told radio station 3AW the man threatened to detonate the explosives on the plane.
‘He was the one who first confronted him when an air hostess was getting scared of this guy and that’s when the guy said “I’m going to blow up this plane”,’ she said.
Vanessa said the man then ran to another part of the plane where he was tackled to the ground by passengers.
MALAYSIA AIRLINE’S CALAMITOUS HISTORY
– December, 4, 1977: Malaysian Airline System Flight 653, a Boeing 737-200, is hijacked and crashed in Tanjung Kupang, Johor, killing all 100 people on board.
– December 18, 1983: Malaysian Airline System Flight 684, an Airbus A300B2, crashed 2km short of the runway at Subang Airport. All 247 passengers and crew survived.
– September 15, 1995: Malaysia Airlines Flight 2133 touched down too far along the runway at Tawau Airport, Sabah. It crashed into a shanty town and killed 34 of the 53 people on board.
– March 8, 2014: The infamous flight MH370, carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew, vanished en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur. The plane has never been located but satellite date suggested it disappeared somewhere over the Southern Indian Ocean and all 239 people on board most likely perished.
– July 17, 2014: Flight MH17, a Boeing 777-200ER, was shot down over Ukraine by a missile on its way to Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. All 283 passengers and 15 crew members aboard were killed.
– April 8, 2017: Malaysia Airlines Flight 2718 overran the runway on landing at Sibu Airport. The nose gear collapsed but all 67 people on board survived.
Saiqa Chaudhery, whose husband was on the flight, described the horrifying scenes.
‘He heard a lot of screaming and (an) airhostess calling out for help as a passenger attacked her,’ Ms Chaudhery told News.com.au.
‘Some other passengers and crew tied the man down and (the) flight landed back at Melbourne Airport 25 minutes after takeoff.’
After making an emergency landing the plane sat on the tarmac with passengers still onboard for more than two hours.
All flights out of Tullamarine have reportedly been grounded, while incoming aircraft have been diverted to nearby Avalon Airport, or as far away as Tasmania.
Malaysia Airlines has released a statement confirming the incident.
‘Malaysia Airlines flight MH128 of 31 May from Melbourne to Kuala Lumpur was forced to turn back to Melbourne due to a disruptive passenger,’ it read.
‘Malaysia Airlines would like to stress that at no point was the aircraft “hijacked”,’ a statement from the airline read.
‘MH128 departed Melbourne Airport at 11.11pm and was to arrive Kuala Lumpur at 5.28am on 1 June made a turn back to Melbourne after the operating Captain was alerted by a cabin crew of a passenger attempting to enter the cockpit.
‘MH128 safely landed in Melbourne Airport at 11.41pm. The aircraft is currently on the remote bay and waiting for security assistance to arrive at the aircraft.
‘Malaysia Airlines would like to stress that at no point was the aircraft “hijacked”.’
Victoria Police Senior Constable Adam West said that Malaysia Airlines had called for assistance at 11.40pm.
‘It is alleged that a man tried to enter the cockpit and threatened the safety of passengers and staff,’
‘The man did not gain entry to the cockpit. The man was subdued and a safety plan was enacted.
‘There appears to be no imminent threat to passengers, staff or public and the investigation is ongoing.’