Thursday, June 1, 2017
MH128 Passengers Tackled Drunk Passenger Who Tried To Break Into Cockpit
The red-eye flight had left Melbourne Airport for Kuala Lumpur when trouble began.
"One air hostess just screamed 'Help, help help', so we tried … but (we were a) couple of seats away," passenger Arif Chaudhery from Pakistan told Channel NewsAsia.
"We tried to (tackle) him on the floor, face down."
The passengers helped the flight crew restrain the passenger, a Sri Lankan national who was apparently drunk.
Malaysia's Deputy Transport Minister Abdul Aziz Kaprawi later confirmed that the passenger was carrying a powerbank, and not a bomb as some reports had initially claimed.
Mr Chaudhery said that they spent about an hour and a half in the plane, before they were evacuated by police and security staff.
"The police were carrying guns. One by one, we were evacuated. The 'special police' were on board the plane," he said.
The passengers were on the tarmac, waiting to go back into the terminal at Melbourne Airport, he told Channel NewsAsia on the phone.
"At the moment, we are sitting here, we don’t know much information. The airport staff just called us, we haven’t been informed at the moment.
"Where they are going to take us - back on the plane? At the moment, (we are) just sitting. We don’t know at this stage."
A spokesman for Melbourne Airport said that all flights at the airport were affected by the incident, and a Malaysia Airlines spokesperson said that MH128 passengers would be put up at hotels and offered the next available flight on the airline or on other carriers.
Mr Chaudhery had reason to be anxious to be on his way.
"My mum is passing on in the ICU in my country," he told Channel NewsAsia. "It could be worse. I might still be lucky."
- Channel News Asia
Flight MH128 suspect only just released from psychiatric facility
A Sri Lankan national living in the Melbourne suburb of Dandenong has been identified as the man allegedly responsible for a bomb scare on a flight from Melbourne.
The man allegedly tried to enter the cockpit while claiming to have a bomb shortly after takeoff on a Malaysian Airlines flight late last night.
The 25-year-old is due to face Melbourne Magistrates Court later today, but Victoria's Police Commissioner Graham Ashton said they are not treating it as a terrorism incident.
Ashton revealed the man is believed to have checked out of a psychiatric facility in Melbourne earlier yesterday.
Because he was in the facility voluntarily, there was nothing to stop him leaving.
Malaysia Airlines confirmed the incident on flight MH128, which left Melbourne at 11.11pm before performing a small loop and landing again at 11.47pm.
The passenger was overpowered by the plane's crew and later arrested at Melbourne's airport, Malaysia's Deputy Transport Minister Abdul Aziz Kaprawi told AFP.
"It is not a hijack. One disruptive passenger tried to enter the plane's cockpit," he said.
"The passenger... claimed to have a bomb. But it was not a bomb but a powerbank (battery charger)."
Ashton also defended the long wait passengers endured on the tarmac before police came on board to arrest the man.
"In some of those circumstances, if we had an incident where there were further explosives that were triggered, we could have had a mass casualty incident," he said.
"There were 337 passengers on that plane, plus crew, and we could have had a very serious incident.
"That was avoided through having a proper approach to getting the passengers off."
Police said the suspected bomb was just a speaker wrapped in plastic.
Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said his staff had reached out to Malaysia Airlines to offer counselling support.
"I want to take this opportunity to thank the crew and those very brave passengers who actually subdued this person, and indeed thank every single passenger for their patience, and you can imagine how traumatic that would have been to go through that experience," Andrews said.
Andrews said the arrested man had been Australia on a student visa studying to be a chef.
"His history would appear to have mental illness, we do not believe this is terrorist related at the moment," Superintendent Tony Langdon told reporters on the tarmac.
"It's quite heroic for the passengers and crew to restrain this person," Superintendent Langdon added.
Among the passengers who subdued the man was Arif Chaudery, who sprung to action after a female crewmember raised the alarm.
"Families, kids, they were very scared, and some screaming…so three or four guys, we jumped as quickly as possible," Mr Chaudery told Today.
"We just put him on the floor and finally staff brought the belt, so we handcuffed him and tied his legs and put his face on the floor.
"We thought he was drunk or on some drug…if he's a bum, how did the person get on the flight?
"This could be worse, I can tell you that now, but that's 300 people who are safe."
Former Melbourne footballer Andrew Leoncelli told 3AW the man was threatening to "blow the plane up" after being told by flight attendants to return to his seat.
"I was sitting in business class and I could hear this idiot saying he wanted to go in an see the pilot and staff were saying sit back down," Leoncelli said.
"He said 'I'm not going to sit down, I'm going to blow the plane up' (and) an air hostess yelled out for help.
"I approached him, he ran down the side and two lads grabbed him and bashed him … took a giant black thing out of his hand.
"I've never seen anything like it."
Leoncelli said the object seized from the man was the size of a watermelon and had "two wire things coming out of it".
"I think the guy was just an idiot," he said.
"He ran literally down the other end of the plane and got restrained.
"We sat for an hour and 20 minutes waiting for the police to come.
"Everyone was s---ing themselves."
The man has been arrested by Australian authorities, who stormed the plane after it landed at Tullamarine.
Malaysia Airlines said the captain turned the plane back to Melbourne after being alerted by a cabin crew "of a passenger attempting to enter the cockpit".
Fairfax reports that in air traffic control audio, a male voice can be heard saying: "We have a passenger trying to enter the cockpit."
About three minutes later the same male voice can be heard saying the passenger was "claiming to have an explosive device, tried to enter the cockpit, has been overpowered by passengers".
Passengers started leaving the plane about 1.30am.
All other flights were diverted to Avalon, near Geelong, with Melbourne Airport in lockdown at the time.
Melbourne Airport has now re-opened and is accepting arriving and departing flights on the east-west runway. The north-south runway remains closed.
Airport workers are being allowed to return inside.
The incident came just months after Canberra called off the search for missing flight MH370 carrying 239 passengers and crew, after a vast underwater hunt off Australia's west coast failed to find the plane.
MH370 disappeared in March 2014, while another passenger jet, MH17, was shot down in July of the same year while flying over Ukraine in twin tragedies to hit Malaysia's national carrier. -With AFP
Posted by wikisabah at 10:27:00 AM