A plane was forced to make an emergency landing at Tullamarine Airport in Melbourne, Australia, Wednesday after a passenger who allegedly attempted to hijack the plane was wrestled to the ground by other passengers.
Malaysian Airlines flight MH128 was only minutes into the flight from Melbourne to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, when a passenger attempted to enter the cockpit, telling those on board that he was in possession of explosives, News Corp Australia Network reported.
According to witnesses, the man was holding an "electronic frequency device" when he said to the flight attendant and others, "I'm going to blow up the plane."
People on the plane said that when the man ran toward the cockpit, a group of passengers wrestled him to the ground and subdued him long enough for a flight attendant to restrain him using makeshift handcuffs, the outlet reported.
According to the Daily Mail, the pilots turned the plane around and made an emergency landing back at Tullamarine Airport, where the plane sat on the tarmac for more than two hours while passengers waited to disembark.
Eventually, armed guards boarded the flight and apprehended the suspect while airport security grounded all outbound flights. Incoming flights were redirected to nearby airports. Australian police said they found no evidence of a bomb on board the flight.
Malaysian Airlines released a statement confirming the incident.
"MH128, which had departed Melbourne Airport at 11.11pm scheduled 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," the statement said. "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. Malaysia Airlines together with the Australian authorities will be investigating the incident," the statement continued.
Malaysia Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Seri Aziz Ab Kaprawi said the passenger causing the incident was inebriated.
"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."
Malaysian Airlines said passengers on the scheduled flight were accommodated at nearby hotels and offered seats on the next available flight or on other carriers.