EgyptAir hijack: Italian among the hostages released

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Passengers of an EgyptAir Airbus A-320, which was hijacked and diverted to Cyprus, at Larnaca airport after disembarking the plane. Photo: George Michael/AFP
11:00 CEST+02:00
An Italian was among the 81 passengers on board an EgyptAir flight when it took off from Alexandria in Egypt on Tuesday morning.

There were also eight Americans, four Britons, four Dutch, two Belgians and 30 Egyptians on board the Cairo-bound jet, which was forced to divert to Cyprus after being taken over by a man who claimed he was wearing an explosives vest.

EgyptAir officials said they had been told by Cypriot authorities that the belt was fake, the BBC reported.

The plane landed safely at Larnaca airport and most of the passengers, including the Italian, named as Andrea Bianchetti, were freed on Tuesday morning.

Seven other hostages - three passengers, the captain, a co-pilot, a female crew member and a security officer - were released later in the day.

The hijacker, identified as Seif Eldin Mustafa, surrendered.

No-one was injured during the ordeal, Cypriot government spokesman Nikos Christodulides said over Twitter.

Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades said earlier on Tuesday that the hijacking was motivated by "personal reasons" and not terrorism.

"It's connected to a woman. We are doing everything we can to release the hostages," Il Messaggero quoted him as saying during a press conference.

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Egypt's Foreign Ministry also said it was motivated by personal reasons, adding that the man demanded political asylum and to talk to his ex-wife, who reportedly lives in Cyprus.

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