Malaysia Airlines flight MH128 from Melbourne to Kuala Lumpur returned to Australia less than an hour into the flight a man reportedly said “I’m going to blow up this plane” before he was restrained by passengers
Heroic Malaysia Airlines passengers tackled a man who tried to storm the cockpit of a plane armed with a “detonator”.
Dramatic pictures captured on board flight MH128 show how the man was tied down when he was restrained shortly after the plane took off from Melbourne to Kuala Lumpur.
The flight returned to Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport less than an hour into the flight before midnight local time (3pm UK time).
Witnesses said the man said “I’m going to blow up this plane” as he tried to enter the cockpit before he was taken down by passengers.
Saiqa Chaudhery, who claimed her husband Arif was on the plane, alleged the passenger was under the influence of drugs or alcohol and that he attacked a flight attendant.
While a woman named Vanessa whose boyfriend Andrew was on the flight told Australian radio station 3AW he was the first to confront him after he intimated cabin crew.
She said: “He was the one who first confronted him when an air hostess was getting scared of this guy and that’s when the guy said ‘I’m going to blow up this plane’
“That’s when he was detained by other passengers I believe.”
In a statement, Malaysia Airlines confirmed a “disruptive passenger” had tried to enter the cockpit. Local media reports suggest he claimed to have explosives.
While passengers suggested he was armed with a “detonator”.
The airline stressed at no point was the plane “hijacked” following reports the man had tried to take control of the flight.
A picture shared on Twitter appears to show armed police on the grounded plane as the flight was evacuated.
No-one is believed to have been injured.
— Flight Alerts ⚠ (@FlightAlerts777) May 31, 2017
The Malaysia Airlines spokesman said: “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.
“Malaysia Airlines would like to stress that at no point was the aircraft ‘hijacked’.
“MH128 safely landed in Melbourne airport at 11.41pm.
“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.
“Safety and security are of utmost priority to malaysia airlines. The airline wishes to apologise for the inconvenience caused.
“Passengers have safely disembarked the aircraft and will be screened by Australian authorities.
“They will be accommodated at hotels and offered on the next available flight or on other carriers.”
— Flightradar24 (@flightradar24) May 31, 2017
A large area around the airport has been closed off and emergency crews are said to have met the plane after it landed safely at the airport.
A Victoria police spokesman said: Emergency services were called to Tullamarine Airport around 11.40pm last night after a request for assistance from an airline.
“It is alleged that a man tried to enter the cockpit and threatened the safety of passengers and staff.
“The man did not gain entry to the cockpit.
“The man was subdued and a safety plan was enacted.
“The plane landed safely at the airport and passengers are currently exiting the plane and speaking to investigators.
“There appears to be no imminent threat to passengers, staff or public and the investigation is ongoing.”
Flights bound for Melbourne were reportedly diverted while the incident was being dealt with.
The airport has now reopened.