Plane Lands Safely in Istanbul After Hijack Attempt to Sochi
ISTANBUL, Turkey (KPTM) - A plane traveling from the Ukraine landed safely after a passenger issued a bomb threat and demanded the plane be flown to Sochi, where the Winter Olympic Games are being held.
CNN-Turk reports the plane is safe on the ground and being searched, the hijacker is in custody.
The attempt happened as the opening ceremonies played out in Sochi.
Pilots sent a signal that the plane was being hijacked before entering Turkey's airspace, said a Turkish government official. The hijacker has been "rendered ineffective".
Turkey scrambled an F-16 fighter jet to force Turkish carrier Pegasus Airlines flight to land at Sabiha Gokcen Airport on Istanbul's Asian side, which was its original final destination, according to news-agency reports.
The official says a citizen of Ukraine declared he had a bomb on him, and demanded the plane to be directed to Sochi. That man never entered the plane's cockpit.
Official opening ceremonies for the Olympic Games began Friday in Sochi amid intense security against potential terror attacks.
The alleged hijacker was apparently in custody, as Cihan News Agency of Turkey published a photograph from inside the plane of a man with empty seats around him with two people in uniform.
Officials had no immediate details on why the alleged hijacker wanted to divert the plane to Sochi.
The 110 passengers are still on board the plane, a public diplomacy officer said Friday night in Turkey. Security officers were searching for a bomb aboard the plane, the transportation official said.
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.