1 Jun 2017

Passenger's 'bomb' threat forces plane back

9:58 am on 1 June 2017

A Malaysia Airlines plane has been forced to turn back to Melbourne's Tullamarine airport after a passenger tried to enter the cockpit.

Malaysia Airlines logo

Photo: 123rf

In a statement, the airline said Flight MH128, bound for Kuala Lumpur, was forced to return due to a disruptive passenger.

The passenger claimed to have explosives, but Malaysian officials say he had a powerbank, not a bomb.

The airline said the flight landed safely and the passenger was apprehended.

Melbourne police said it was not an act of terror.

Some passengers and crew members tackled the man and tied him up with seatbelts.

Malaysia Airlines said the Airbus A330 bound for Kuala Lumpur was in the air for just 30 minutes of its eight-hour flight.

Sydney Morning Herald reporter Latika Bourke told Morning Report former AFL player Andrew Leoncelli was the first to get up to confront the man.

"He said 'mate, what are you doing, sit down'. He wouldn't sit down and at that point began running to the back of the plane.

"This is when Andrew tells us that two Aussie guys aged around in their 30s overpowered him."

She said Malaysian media was reporting the man was a Sri Lankan national who was drunk.

"Andrew told us, he was looking this guy in the eye, he said 'look, he just seems like a lunatic, really dodgy and a weirdo'."

Passengers disembarked safely from the aircraft and those affected were offered the next available flight or flights via other carriers, the airline said.

Victoria state police said the man allegedly threatened the safety of passengers and staff.

"The man did not gain entry to the cockpit. The man was subdued and a safety plan was enacted," said the statement.

Aircraft tracking website Flightradar said flights bound for Melbourne had been diverted to other airports because of the incident. Local media reports in Melbourne said the airport was in a lockdown temporarily.

Tullamarine Airport officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

- Reuters

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