Malaysia Airlines flight MH128 departing from Melbourne, Australia, was forced to reverse course after a passenger allegedly tried to enter the cockpit and threaten to bomb the plane.
Flight MH128 was on its way to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, when a 25-year-old Australian citizen from Dandenong in Melbourne “ran up to the cockpit”, while “holding an electronic frequency device, not a bomb”.
Saiqa Chaudhery, whose husband Arif was on the flight, told ChannelNewsAsia that other passengers then “tackled (the passenger) and tied him” up.
The man reportedly had been “under drug or alcohol influence” and “attacked an air hostess”, her husband told her.
Victoria Police Senior Constable Adam West said police responded to Malaysia Airlines request for help and arrived at Tullamarine Airport at 11:40 p.m. local time, according to News Corp Australia Network.
Former Melbourne AFL footballer Andrew Leoncelli, who was also on the flight and tried to stop the alleged bomber, said passengers remained on the plane on the tarmac for more than an hour before police boarded.
Australian police said they checked that there was no bomb, and the incident is not being treated as terror related.
Melbourne Airport was placed in lockdown after the incident, with flights resuming at 2:30 a.m., but travelers were urged to contact airlines for more information.
Flight MH128 was transferred to a secure area while incoming flights were redirected to nearby Avalon Airport.
In a statement, Malaysia Airlines said: “MH128, which had departed Melbourne Airport at 11:11 pm and was scheduled to arrive Kuala Lumpur at 5:28 am on 1 June, made a turn back to Melbourne after the operating Captain was alerted by a cabin crew member of a passenger attempting to enter the cockpit. Malaysia Airlines would like to stress that at no point was the aircraft ‘hijacked’.”
“Following the incident on MH128, the disruptive passenger has been apprehended by airport security,” the statement went on. “Malaysia Airlines together with the Australian authorities will be investigating the incident.”
Malaysia’s Deputy Transport Minister Abdul Aziz Kaprawi said the “disruptive passenger” was apparently drunk.
“Malaysia Airlines practices a high level of security and safety, so they turned back. The crew managed to handle the passenger and once they landed, they contacted airport security to have the passenger removed,” Kaprawi said. “I have no information yet as to whether the plane will be taking off again soon, but it is believed that the suspect is a Sri Lankan national, and that he was drunk.”
Malaysia Airlines said passengers on MH128 were accommodated at hotels and offered seats on the next available flight or on other airlines.
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