Hijacker forces flight to Moscow to divert and demands to be taken to Afghanistan – before pilot lands at Russian airport ‘to refuel’ and snipers surround the jet
- Aircraft was flying to Moscow when man demanded it be diverted to Afghanistan
- Aeroflot plane, carrying 76, was forced to land 150 miles short of Russian capital
- There are conflicting reports in Russia over whether the suspect was armed
A hijack drama in underway in Russia today after a man forced a flight to Moscow to divert and demanded to be taken to Afghanistan.
The suspect ordered crew to change course shortly after the Aeroflot plane, carrying 76 people, took off from the Siberian city of Surgut.
It landed in the city of Khanty-Mansiysk about 150 miles to the west and the Boeing 737 is standing on the runway amid reports it has been surrounded by snipers.
There were conflicting reports about the passenger, with some Russian news agencies saying he had been detained by police on landing while others said he remained on board and had managed to seize control of the plane.
One video from Mash online news outlet appeared to show passengers on the hijacked plane on the ground at the terminal. Another from TV360 showed a sniper arriving at the airport, said the online channel.
An Aeroflot flight to Moscow was forced to divert after a passenger demanded that the plane be landed in Afghanistan. Footage shows the plane coming in to land in the city of Khanty-Mansiysk – 150 miles short of its intended destination
Ten police teams were dispatched to the airport (pictured). Local news sites claim that the suspect – identified in Russian media only as 41-year-old Pavel – may be mentally unstable and that he had been detained for drunken behaviour in the past
Another image has emerged purporting to show the scene inside the passenger jet. It is not clear when the photo was taken
The airport was reported to be ‘partially evacuated’. The alleged hijacker was in seat 14a.
Reports say the captain told passengers the plane is now being refuelled and this would take 15 minutes. He asked passengers to remain calm.
The circumstances surrounding the incident remain unclear, but it is understood the man had made demands for the plane to divert to Afghanistan.
Sources say cabin crew on flight SU 1515 were able to convince the man that the plane needed to touch down to refuel.
Ten police teams were dispatched to the airport. Local news sites claim that the suspect – identified in Russian media only as 41-year-old Pavel – may be mentally unstable and that he had been detained for drunken behaviour in the past.
Aeroflot initially refused to comment .
‘We suggest you talk to the Russian National Anti-Terrorism Committee’, the airline representative said. The committee soon afterwards confirmed the man had been detained.
The circumstances surrounding the incident remain unclear, but it is understood the man had made demands for the plane to divert to Afghanistan
The Boeing 737, which was carrying 76 people including 69 passengers, touched down in the city of Khanty-Mansiysk
‘The crew managed to persuade the passenger to agree to refueling in Khanty-Mansiysk,’ said a source.
Footage from TV360 showed the plane landing in the city. The man’s motive was not immediately clear.
The flight from Surgut departed 2.55pm local time and washed been due to land at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport at 4.20pm Moscow time.
It comes days after tourists on a crowded holiday jet heading for Russia ‘neutralised’ a drunk passenger by tying him up with sticky tape and belts.
They acted after the crew were unable too subdue the man – and the pilot made it clear he was ready to make an emergency landing to hand the ‘hooligan’ over to police in China or Mongolia.
The passenger – aged 26 and reportedly recently released from prison in Thailand – ‘swore and attacked’ travellers seated near him on the A320 flight from Bangkok.