A 25-year-old Sri Lankan man is being investigated after he attempted to enter the cockpit of flight MH128 going from Melbourne to Kuala Lumpur. Interestingly, he had just been released from psychiatric care at the Monash Medical Centre only hours before he boarded the flight.
Apparently, the man had been living in Dandenong, Melbourne, on a student visa and was studying to become a chef. But authorities are unsure why he got onto the Malaysian airlines flight and threatened to hijack the plane.
The Kuala Lumpur bound flight had hardly taken off when the "operating Captain was alerted by a cabin crew of a passenger attempting to enter the cockpit.”
An airhostess yelled for help, but the man was insisting he wanted to “go in and see the pilot.” The staff was telling him to sit back down, upon which he threatened to “blow the plane up.”
"So the staff scream out 'I need some help, I need some help'. So I jumped up, undid my buckle, and approached him. And I said 'Mate, what are you effing doing?'. He goes 'I'm going to blow the f***ing plane up, I'm going to blow the f***ing plane up,’” said Former Melbourne AFL player Andrew Leoncelli who was also on the flight.
The Sri Lankan national then ran to the back of the plane, where two other men tackled him to the ground and tied him with belts. The hijacker was carrying a huge black thing in his hand, which the men pulled out of his hand, after which the plane was turned out.
The man now faces two charges under the Crimes and Aviation Act; one of threatening an aircraft and the other of making false claims, both of which have a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment.
Interestingly, even after the plane landed the police did not appear on the scene until an hour and a half. After waiting for nearly an hour a half, heavily armed officers took over the plane.
However, Police's Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton is defending the delay saying, "There were some initial reports we have received from within the plane of the possibility of there being more than one offender, or more than one explosive device. If there was an explosive device... the sudden removal of the passengers could cause difficulty.”
"They managed to calm the situation, allow the aircraft to return safely and we can't commend them highly enough," said Superintendent Langdon.
I generally fully support the police but the "we didn't know what was going on on the plane" excuse rings hollow. Just ask the crew #MH128— Murray Brust (@MurrayBrust) June 1, 2017
#mh128 When will we ever hear the term "police acted swiftly"? Its more like "police hesitated once again". Doors should have been opened!!— 1FunMumm (@1funmumm) June 1, 2017
#mh128 yet again we see that police management scared to go hard. If you live in Aust then best go full gas defending yourself. 🙌crew— Zaphod Perth (@ZaphodP) June 1, 2017
Passengers believe the man was under the influence of alcohol.
A statement by the airline claims that “at no point was the aircraft hijacked.”
Banner/thumbnail credit: Reuters