Posted by News Express | 18 February 2014 | 4,300 times
Five Nigerians were among the 193 passengers on board the Rome-bound Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 767 plane that was hijacked yesterday, it has been confirmed.
The confirmation was made by Ethiopia’s Minister of Information and Communication, Redwan Hussein, during a news conference in the country’s capital, Addis Ababa. He said other passengers on board the aircraft included 140 Italians and 11 Americans, among others.
The minister apologised to the passengers for the “undue emotional stress and inconvenience they faced in the course of the hijack.”
He said the suspected hijacker, whose name was given as Hailemedihn Abera Tegegn, 31, was under custody pending investigation by Ethiopian and Swiss authorities. Hussein said both governments are also making efforts to expedite the travel of Flight 702 passengers to their intended destination.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Flight 702, with 202 passengers and flight crews left the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa at 12.30 a.m. local time and was due to land in Rome, Italy at 04:40 a.m. local time.
However, the plane was forced to make an unscheduled landing in Geneva at 6 a.m. local time, according to the Airlines statement issued early yesterday.
Hussein said the act of the said Asylum-seeking co-pilot was in violation of article 32 of the Ethiopian Constitution, which guaranteed the freedom of citizens to travel out of the country.
“It also represents a gross betrayal of trust that needlessly endangered the lives of the very passengers that a pilot is morally and professionally obliged to safeguard.”
He commended the Switzerland Government for the care it provided for the passengers and the prompt apprehension of the suspect, confirming that the suspect allegedly locked the cockpit door when the pilot went to the toilet and hijacked the aircraft.
•Photo shows Ethiopian Government Spokesman, Redwan Hussein
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