Melbourne : A Malaysia Airlines plane, with 337 people on-board, was forced to return to the airport here when a mentally-ill Sri Lankan passenger threatened to detonate a bomb after allegedly trying to force his way into the cockpit, officials said on Thursday. The 25-year-old man was subdued by the crew and passengers who tied him up with belts.
The Kuala Lumpur-bound flight MH 128, left Melbourne at 11:11pm, was forced to return and make an emergency landing 30 minutes after it took off from Tullamarine Airport late last night. The man was arrested by airport security after the plane landed and is now in police custody.
“We believe that the actions of the passengers and crew were heroic,” Victoria Police Superintendent Tony Langdon was qouted as saying. “They managed to calm the situation, allow the aircraft to return safely and we can’t commend them highly enough,” Langdon said.
Photographs on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation website showed black-clad armed officers on board the plane. He said the incident was not terror-related and the man was known to the police due to his history of mental- illness.
Langdon said the man was carrying an electronic device that police quickly realised was not a bomb. “He had a piece of equipment which, for all intents and purposes is something that everybody would be carrying around on a daily basis.”