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Egypt Air
A policeman stands guard at Larnaca Airport near a hijacked Egyptair A320 Yiannis Kourtoglou/ Reuters
  • Police in at Larnaca airport in Cyprus have arrested a hijacker who took control of Egyptair flight MS181 en route to Cairo from Alexandria.
  • All 81 passengers including four foreign nationals and crew members, held for several hours as hostages, are free and safe.
  • At the conclusion of the stand off four individuals fled the plane before the hijacker gave himself up.
  • Cypriot authorities have identified the hijacker as Seif el-Din Mustafa, an Egyptian national.
  • Mustafa told crew on the plane he had a bomb; it later emerged the device he was later shown wearing in pictures was a fake.
  • Egypt's civil aviation minister has said investigations will be made into the hijacking and whether or not security measures failed.
Map shows the route flight MS181
Map showing the route of diverted flight MS181 after its hijacking while en route to Cairo IBTimes UK

This concludes IBTimes UK's live coverage of the Larnaca hostage crisis. For the latest new on this issue, click here.

The British Foreign Office has confirmed in statement that British nationals were caught up in today's hijacking events and added it is giving consular assistance.

"We are relieved that the situation at Larnaca Airport has now come to a safe conclusion. We are providing consular support to British Nationals caught up in today's events," the government ministry said in statement.

"We remain in close contact with the Cypriot and Egyptian authorities," it added.

A man thought to be the hijacker
A man thought to be the hijacker leaves the hijacked Egyptair Airbus A320 at Larnaca Airport in Larnaca, Cyprus, March 29, 2016 Reuters

Both Cypriot and Egyptian authorities are now repeating the line that the hijacker was psychological unstable and that beyond his unsound mental state there appears to be no other immediate motivation for the hijacking.

Egyptian and Cypriot authorities have said the hijacker's suicide belt was not real.

The development shows how Mustafa was able to board the plane and get past security, at Alexandria airport. However, Egypt's minister of aviation has said an investigation would have to be launched if it emerged a passenger was able to divert a flight with a fake bomb.

AFP reports all the passengers on MS181 are now safe and accounted for.

"It's over," Ministry of Foreign Affairs tweets.

Reuters has reported, citing the Cyrpiot state broadcaster, that the hijacker was seen emerging from aircraft with his hands held up.

Nikos Christodoulides, a spokesman the President of Cyprus said the hijacker has been arrested.

Egyptian state media, which has reported conflicting information throughout the hostage crisis, is now claiming that among the hijacker's demands was a request that all female prisoners across Egypt be released.

Images have emerged, obtained by Sky News Arabia, which appear to show a man escaping the Egyptair flight through the plane's cockpit.

The outlet reported that three others apparently made it out of the plane by running down the stairs.

Cyprus' foreign ministry has confirmed the identity of the hijacker as Seif el-Din Mustafa. The Egyptian government has reportedly apologised to Egyptian professor of veterinary science Ibrahim Samaha who was initially identified as the hijacker.

Video has emerged of the hostages aboard the flight being released in Cyprus. According to reports, many did not know they were being hijacked until the plane started ascending rather than descending into Cairo.

The Egyptian president's office has released another name for the hijacker, previously thought to be Ibrahim Samaha.

CNN has reported the hijacker is now believed to be Seid el-Din Mustafa.

Euromonitor International, an intelligence research and data analyst, has commented on the effects the security breach could have on Egypt's tourism industry:

"The events of today are again a negative development for the Tourism industry in Egypt and its economy. The hijacking of EgyptAir plane carrying 64 passengers and forced to land in Cyprus, come just months after the Russian plane crash over the Sinai Peninsula.

"Even if recent developments confirms that this is not a terrorist attack but rather an asylum seeker who want to join his ex-wife, this raises further concerns about security at airports in the country.

"The crash devastated Egypt's tourism industry, with Russia and the U.K. -two of Egypt's major tourism markets - suspending their flights to the country (until today). With almost 3 million arrivals, Russia was the largest inbound market in 201; U.K is the second biggest market for Egypt with 1 million arrivals.

"If we analyse tourist's performance prior the political unrest in 2011 and recurring attacks by jihadist militants (such as Sinai), arrivals from key markets plummeted in 2011 and started gradually to recover until this year. But those never achieved the performance from prior the events."

The hijacker's Cypriot ex-wife has arrived at the airport to talk to him. In a ribald quip at the end of a press conference on the crisis, Cyrpus' President Nicos Anastasiades said "there is always a woman behind an incident like this" after saying the incident was not related to terrorism.

Speaking at a press conference in Cairo, Egypt's minister of civil aviation has clarified the ongoing situation.

He has said the captain, co-pilot, a female crew member and three other passengers are on the aircraft with the hijacker.

Officials on the ground are not sure if there were any weapons involved in the hijacking but are operating on the assumption that the purported suicide belt is real.

"Up to now we have not had any effective demands that we can announce," the minister was quoted by the Guardian as saying.

EgyptAir Airbus A-320
Passengers of an EgyptAir Airbus A-320 which was hijacked and diverted to Cyprus stand at Larnaca airport after disembarking the plane on March 29, 2016. A hijacker seized the Egyptian airliner and diverted it to Cyprus, before releasing all the passengers except four foreigners and the crew Getty

The first images have emerged from the tarmac at Larnaca of hostages being freed.

There are now said to be seven people, passengers and crew, aboard the plane.

The hijacker, while he still believed to be named Ibrahim Samaha, is not an academic at Alexandria University, as we preciously reported.

Professor Samaha, from the faculty of veterinary medicine in Egypt's second city, has been in contact with BBC Arabic to confirm he is not the hijacker. His picture - different to that of the hijacker - has been shared on social media.

Professor Samaha
Professor Samaha, is not the man who hijacked flight MS181 Twitter

The FCO has updated its travel advice on Cyprus in the wake of the ongoing situation. It is telling British nationals:

"As a result of a security incident, flights are being diverted away from Larnaca airport. If your travel plans are affected please contact your airline or travel company.

"Cyprus Airways is no longer operating. The Cyprus government has madealternative arrangements for holders of Cyprus Airways tickets. Contact any travel agency licensed by the Cyprus Tourism Organisation for more information.

"There is a general threat from terrorism."

Egypt's Foreign Ministry has commented on the situation in Cyprus which appears to be rapidly deescalating.

"He's not a terrorist, he's an idiot. Terrorists are crazy but they aren't stupid. This guy is," an unnamed source from the ministry was quoted by the Guardian as saying.

Egyptian officials have started to cast real doubt over whether the hijacker is carrying a bomb, or indeed any other kind of weapon.

Images of the hijacker, Ibrahim Samaha, have emerged on Egyptian media. Reuters has reported Samaha is an Alexandria-based academic and a professor of veterinary medicine at the city's university.

Along with a demand for political asylum in Cyprus, the hijacker has also demanded to speak with his Cypriot ex-wife.

According to reports in local media, she is now being escorted to the airport to speak with him after he dropped a note out of the plane.

AFP has confirmed the hijacker, who has not been formally identified, is asking for political asylum, quoting Cypriot state media.

Unconfirmed reports have claimed the hijacker is called Ibrahim Samaha. There is currently confusion over whether he is a Libyan or Egyptian national. It appears the hijacker's motivation for taking control of the plane was to ask for political asylum.

The BBC has reported that the hijacker is an Egyptian national who boarded the flight initially in Saudi Arabia before connecting in Alexandria.

Images have emerged of those freed passengers disembarking the Egyptair flight

Egyptair has corrected its mistake in an English tweet. Four, not five foreign nationals are still on the flight.

Sky News has reported that one Irish national is among the passengers on flight MS181.

A spokesman for the British Foreign Office has said in a statement to IBTimes UK: "We are in contact with the Cypriot and Egyptian authorities after a hijacked plane landed in Cyprus."

It is understood that authorities are working to establish whether any British nationals are among the passengers.

The British Foreign Office has told IBTimes UK that it cannot confirm reports that as many as eigth UK nationals may have been aboard the flight.

Egyptair has said negotiations on the ground have led to the release of all hostages with the exception of five foreign nationals and the plane's cabin staff.

Egyptair has said through its Arabic language twitter accounts that one passenger was wearing a suicide vest, and the plane's pilot was able to inform officials on the ground. The airline has said 81 passengers were aboard.

Reports in the Egyptian media have claimed that British and US nationals are aboard the flight.

The Israel airforce has been placed on high alert following the hijacking to prevent any intrusion into the country's airspace.

The first images of flight MS181 have emerged online.

There are also unconfirmed reports on social media that the hijacker is wearing a suicide vest. The pilot may have been able to convey this information over the radio.

According to Cyprus state television, all Egyptian nationals, women and children are being allowed to disembark the plane.

EgyptAir airliner, Larnaka airport
File photo: Larnaka airport, where an EgyptAir plane has landed after reports of it being hijacked iStock

Aviation officials in Cyprus appear to be operating on the assumption there may bomb onboard the Egyptair flight. A crisis team has been deployed on the tarmac at Larnaca although no specific demands appear to have been made at this point.

The hijacker or hijackers have also not identified themselves as operating for any group, al-Arabiya news reported.

Reuters reported there was only one hijacker aboard the plane. The airliner's pilot radioed at 7:15 local time to report the situation with the flight landing at Larnaca at 8:50am.

There are varying reports of how many passengers are aboard the A320. Cyprus' state broadcaster has reported 55 passengers are on the flight with a crew of 7. Other estimates have ranged up to 80 passengers.

Egyptair has confirmed the hijacking of the plane, identifying it as flight MS181