Shortly after takeoff, a Malaysia Airlines passenger allegedly tried to access the flight deck while threatening that he was armed with explosives.
A Malaysia Airlines flight bound for Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KUL) returned safely to Melbourne Tullamarine Airport (MEL) on Wednesday following an incident just after takeoff. According to eyewitnesses, a passenger who appeared to be intoxicated attempted to force his way into the cockpit and claimed to have explosives with him.
Photographs posted on social media show police armed with assault rifles boarding the aircraft after it returned to MEL. According to Victoria police, the out-of-control passenger was subdued by crew members and fellow passengers before the plane landed.
“The man did not gain entry to the cockpit,” authorities told BBC News in a statement immediately following the worrisome incident. “The man was subdued and a safety plan was enacted.There appears to be no imminent threat to passengers, staff or public.”
Although the unidentified passenger repeatedly claimed to have an explosive device, Malaysian authorities said that the device the man used to threaten passengers was harmless. “It was not a bomb but a power-bank,” Deputy Transport Minister Abdul Aziz bin Kaprawi told reporters.
Malaysia Airlines officials said the incident would be investigated by both the airline and Australian authorities, but the carrier appeared to initially downplay the seriousness of the events onboard the plane. In a statement, the airline reported that the emergency landing was “due to a disruptive passenger.” According to the statement, the flight was in the air for less than 30 minutes before safely returning to the airport.