GENEVA, Feb 17 – An Ethiopian Airlines flight en-route to Rome was hijacked on Monday and forced to land in Geneva, where the hijacker has been arrested, police said.
Flight ET-702 from Addis Ababa to Rome “was hijacked… it landed in Geneva at 6am (0500 GMT),” Geneva police spokesman Christophe Fortis told AFP, adding that the alleged hijacker “has been arrested.”
“The situation is under control… Police intervened and arrested the hijacker,” said a spokesman for the airport, which was briefly closed.
There were no immediate reports of injuries and Ethiopian Airlines said in a statement in Addis Ababa that “the passengers are safe and sound”.
The plane was parked at a far end of a runway crowded with police and other emergency vehicles, with passengers filing out with their arms up in the air before getting onto waiting buses, according to an AFP reporter at the scene.
According to the ATS news agency, the flight was carrying some 200 people and was hijacked as it flew over Sudan, but the reason for the hijacking was not immediately clear.
Ethiopia said Monday it was investigating who hijacked the Boeing 767, which left Addis Ababa at 00:30am (2130 GMT Sunday) and had been due to land in the Italian capital at 4:40am.
“Who was behind this hijacking and who this guy is, is not yet known,” Ethiopia’s Information Minister Redwan Hussein told AFP.
“Our ambassador there (in Geneva) is trying to search information from our passengers,” he said.
The minister said officials were also trying to establish how the hijacker managed to get on the Rome-bound flight at Addis Ababa’s airport.
“They have not yet had the details as to how he managed to get in the airplane and who was behind that and what actually he had at his disposal to force the airplane” to divert, he said.
All flights to and from the Geneva airport early Monday had either been diverted or cancelled.
The airport was gradually reopening, with landings starting up again at 8am and takeoffs scheduled to begin at 8:45 am, according to a spokesman.
Police were scheduled to brief the media at the airport at 9am (0800 GMT).