A plane flying holidaymakers from Newcastle to Cyprus was forced to make an emergency landing after a pilot collapsed in the cockpit.

Thomson Holiday Flight 1714 was travelling to Larnaca, on the south coast of the Mediterranean island, on Sunday (8 October).

But an emergency was declared after the pilot fell ill and the plane landed just 16 minutes later in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia with crew members allegedly seen rushing to collect oxygen cylinders to take into the cockpit.

One passenger told The Sun that he saw the pilot "lying prostrate on the floor". The passenger said: "It was terrifying. I glimpsed inside the cockpit door.

"There was coffee all over the floor and it looked like the guy had collapsed.

"He was lying prostrate on the floor. It's not what you want to see happening at the front of the plane."

The plane was able to make a safe landing with passengers put up in hotels overnight before catching another flight from Bulgaria to Cyprus on Monday.

One passenger travelling with his family for a week-long holiday, told the newspaper: "He was wheeled out of the cockpit and off the plane after our emergency landing before being placed on a stretcher and taken off to hospital."

Holidaymakers were left on the plane and then the runway for around three hours waiting for hotels to be arranged, with some taking to Twitter to complain about the lack of information.

Samantha Eaton tweeted: "What the hell is going on, diverted to Sofia, trying to get home to Larnaca! 24 hour helpline ho (sic) help no flight info."

A Thomson Airways spokesman said: "We can confirm that as a result of one of our pilots feeling unwell, the decision was taken to divert the Newcastle to Larnaca, Cyprus flight last night.

"A priority landing was requested at Sofia, Bulgaria which was the closest airport and the pilot was taken to a nearby hospital to be assessed.

"We would like to thank all of our customers for their patience and we are working to get them on their holiday as quickly as possible.

"The welfare of all customers and crew travelling with us is our priority at all times."