‘Emotionally Unstable’ Man Detained After Plane Hijacking Claim
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2017-11-15 07:29:41

A passenger onboard a Sichuan Airlines flight was taken into custody Tuesday after he yelled midflight that someone was attempting to hijack the plane.

Police in Hunan province, in central China, said in a statement early Wednesday morning that a 22-year-old man surnamed Zhang had caused a “disturbance” on a flight from Xiamen, in eastern China, to Chongqing, in the country’s southwest.

“People want to harm me, some have knives, some have guns, people want to hijack the plane!” Zhang had yelled in the direction of the cockpit as the flight was on its way to a planned stopover in Changsha, Hunan’s capital. According to the police report, Zhang was incoherent when a crew member tried to talk to him. Staff then subdued him in the last row of the cabin with the help of another passenger.

The passenger who caused a disturbance midflight is escorted away by police after the plane landed safely in Changsha, Hunan province, Nov. 14, 2017. From the Weibo account of the Hunan police

The passenger who caused a disturbance midflight is escorted away by police after the plane landed safely in Changsha, Hunan province, Nov. 14, 2017. From the Weibo account of the Hunan police

Authorities at Changsha Huanghua International Airport were notified of a possible hijacking attempt. When the flight landed safely at about 9:15 p.m., Zhang was taken into custody. He did not have a criminal record, and — contrary to initial social media reports — had not been under the influence of drugs.

Zhang’s relatives told police that he had been emotionally unstable due to issues at work, and because he had recently needed treatment for lithiasis, an organ stone. He was eventually sent to a hospital, police said.

All other passengers onboard the plane were put through security again, and after a check of the aircraft, the flight continued on its way to Chongqing.

Almost 24 hours earlier, Changsha airport closed its runways after a China Southern Airlines flight made an emergency landing following a fire alarm onboard the aircraft. That, too, turned out to be false alarm.

Editor: Qian Jinghua.

(Header image: A Sichuan Airlines plane over Shenyang, Liaoning province, Oct. 6, 2017. IC)