Drunk sparks hijack alert on Turkish flight

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The Independent Online

A drunk man sparked a hijack alert on a Turkish Airlines plane today after passing a note to the pilot saying he had a bomb, a top airline official said.

Turkish Airlines Chief Executive Temel Kotil told broadcaster NTV: "We learned that the passenger was drunk".

Passengers on the aircraft, which had taken off from the Turkish resort of Antalya bound for St Petersburg in Russia, disarmed the man, a spokeswoman for Turkey's main airport operator TAV said. No bomb or weapon was found on him.

The plane, carrying 164 passengers - mostly Russian tourists - and 7 crew, landed safely in St Petersburg, Turkish media said.

"The passenger sent a note to the captain which read 'take me inside (the flight cabin) or I will explode the bomb I have," Kotil told state-run Anatolian news agency.

The pilot refused to open the door and the assailant was overpowered by passengers, he said.

Hijackings are common in Turkey, where a number of radical groups ranging from Kurdish separatists to far-left militants operate, and several incidents in the past two years have ended without casualties.

Late last year two men hijacked a Turkish airliner heading for Istanbul from nothern Cyprus, but gave themselves up and released their hostages after forcing the plane to land in southern Turkey.

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