MAS plane diverts to Melbourne due to ‘disruptive passenger’

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PETALING JAYA: A Malaysia Airlines flight from Melbourne to Kuala Lumpur returned to Melbourne due to a “disruptive passenger” tonight, The Star Online reported.

The plane turned back 20 minutes into the flight and landed safely at 11.41pm, the daily said.

MAS flight MH128 took off from Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport at 11.11pm (local time) and was to arrive at KL International Airport at 5.28am (Malaysian time).

It quoted a MAS statement that said the flight turned back to Melbourne “after the operating captain was alerted by a cabin crew of a passenger attempting to enter the cockpit”.

MAS said the aircraft was parked in a remote bay as it waited for security assistance to arrive.

Later, MAS apologised for the inconvenience caused and said, “Passengers have safely disembarked the aircraft and will be screened by Australian authorities. They will be accommodated at hotels and offered seats on the next available flight or on other carriers.”

Melbourne’s Herald Sun reported that Melbourne Airport was in a lockdown with all flights suspended.

Flight-tracking service Flightradar24 said the “passenger security incident” on MH128 led to flights heading for Melbourne to be diverted to other airports.

Roads in the area were also reportedly blocked.

However, the airport began accepting arriving and departing flights from 2.30am after police checked the plane.

According to Australian news reports, the passenger claimed he had a bomb.

A local journalist from SBS News, Brianna Roberts, reported that a passenger said the man in question was tackled by 11 other passengers.

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The suspect “ran up to the cockpit” and was seen “holding an electronic frequency device, not a bomb”, she tweeted.

A passenger, who identified himself as Andy, told 3AW radio station in Melbourne that 10 minutes after take-off, one of the passengers insisted he wanted to see the pilot.

When the staff told him to sit down, he refused and threatened to blow the plane up. He was later tackled by passengers.

Andy said passengers grabbed a huge black object, the size of a watermelon, from the man’s hand.

“It was huge, it was black and it had two black antennae coming off it, but it also looked like an iPhone jack. So it could have been just a beatbox thing,” he said. “I think the guy was just an idiot.”