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tv   Early Start With John Berman and Christine Romans  CNN  March 29, 2016 1:00am-2:01am PDT

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>> announcer: this is cnn breaking news. welcome viewers here in the united states and you watching from all around the world. i'm errol barnett with breaking news from cyprus. a plane was on route from alexandra to cairo and had 81 passengers on board. egypt air says negotiations with the hijacker are under way. already they freed most of the passengers. you see footage of them deplaning and getting on buses at the airport. but, the crew and four foreign nationals, we understand, are
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still on board as this individual who claims to have explosives continues negotiations with egyptian officials. egyptian civil aviation ministry says the plane was forced by the individual with explosives. we don't know the individual or the demands they are making or who they are claims to be affiliated with. we want to bring in our correspondent in cairo. the original destination of the flight. ian lee. ian, what information have you been able to gather in the situation which has been taking place for over an hour. >> reporter: errol, what we are hearing from one egyptian official from the civil of ministry aviation, quote, i doubt he had explosives because security has been heightened across all egyptian airports. we will be able to confirm that later. that's a direct quote from the
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evenings official. down playing the fact this is an actual explosive device. we do not know whether the device the hijacker claims is in fact real or not. what we know is this plane took off from alexanderia at 6:40 a.m. there were 81 people on board. minutes into the flight the plane was diverted larnaca. we know from egyptian officials from egypt arrir officials, the are four crew members and foreign individuals. flights to larnaca have been diverted. egyptian officials are in contact with the cypriot
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counterpart. other th that, we don't know more about the motivation behind this. right now, officials are trying to make sure this incident ends peacefully. >> and ian, in the statement you read, the aviation industry is attempting to put doubt that the individual has explosives with them. they don't know. they go on to say they can't confirm that yet. although they plan to very soon. what is the security posturing at the airport of origin in alexandria? what do we know about where the flight originated? >> reporter: this really all goes back to october when the isis blew up a metro jet plane. after that, egyptian officials promised they would beef up security at the airport in sharm
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el sheikh, but across the country. ensuring people flying to egypt was safe. traveling through the airport myself, there are layers of security you have to go through before you are able to get to your plane. there's many times where they scan your luggage and check for it. this is what we're seeing from the egyptian civil aviation ministry. security has been stepped up. that any sort of explosive device would have been detected. although they have said they still aren't sure whether this device is real or not. they want to also at the same time reassure people who are traveling to egypt that they are taking this situation seriously. >> a tense situation for the passengers and crew or anyone with relatives on the plane. ian lee, we will let you go
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gather more information from all of your contacts. we want to reconnect with the security director for the asia pacific foundation. he is on the phone. john, i had to politely cut you off as we got our ducks in order. you were speaking about the jet crash last october of the russian jet and how it feeds into the perception of the security in egypt. i want to allow you to finish your thought on that. >> right. we recall the incident itself and it seems an isis affiliate based in the sinai peninsula managed to smuggle an explosive device on the metro jet russian plane. it blew up mid air. ever since then, there has opinion a concern that is incompeten
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incompetence. they have taken additional measures at the airport. this incident is not similar in any way. it is a more old fashion style terrorism where hijackers makes demands. the fact that many passengers have been released is a positive sign. it is rather more personal than ideological. it appears no one has been wounded or killed. that is something to be hopeful about. >> john, all we know is this egyptair flight was diverted from the domestic route in egypt to cyprus. foreign nationals and crew are still on board. what would the protocol be?
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obviously officials are in negotiation with the individual. have procedures changed over the past few years with new forms of terrorism emerging? will they be dusting off an old protocol book to deal with this? >> it seems they have to go old school to negotiate with this individual. it's rare now a days to have negotiations taking place because i'm afraid with the way aviation security has been since 9/11 is the goal is to use the plane as a weapon and passengers as tools. so the fact is this individual is perhaps not ideologically connected to a group or affiliated to an asset. there's speculation and it is only speculation right now in the cypriot media. that needs to be confirmed.
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it fits into the scenario that this is somebody who is affected on something personal rather than something associated with a terrorist group. >> sajjan gohel. director of the asia-pacific foundation. this is a unique act of terrorism. we don't know if terror is part of the motivation here. sajjan, thank you. we continue to cover this breaking story. we bring in philip baum. he is the head of security of international. philip? >> of course, as everybody said, it's very early. we don't know if this is a terrorist act. i'm sure it is terrorizing for everybody on board the aircraft. this could be the actions of the lone individual. either a lone wolf terrorist or
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somebody with severe psychological problems or carrying an explosive device on his body. we don't know if security has been penetrated by an improvised explosive device managed to be carried through the check point. we have to wait and see how this pans out. >> how is it supposed to pan out when an airline from egypt gets diverted to separate jurisdiction, cyprus, and negotiations continue, but surely they want to get some kind of security presence closer to the plane and closer to the aircraft to figure out who this individual is and if in fact they have explosives with them? how much of this is complicated that the egypt flight has been diverted out of the country? >> not complicated rather than we're in cyprus rather than
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egypt. it is fairly textbook. quite 1980s or 1990s in terms of the style of attack. that is aircraft is hijacked. we're not sure how the hijacker managed to gain control of the aircraft on board and divert to a foreign state where passengers were released. it is interesting that actually the hijackers managed to keep foreign nationals on board while seemingly keeping control of the flight deck. the initial speculation is there is more than one hijacker on board to achieve that. we have had hijacks in the past. only a decade ago, a turkish airlines hijacked out of albania to istanbul. one hijacker claimed to have
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explosives strapped around his waist, but actually newspaper packed around his waist. he said that was c-4 explosives. the crew believed. didn't want to risk not believing the hijacker. the plane landed in italy and eventually everybody was released. it appears something similar to that. the hijacker probably is holding a few people back on board just to secure his own release and make sure it doesn't all come to a very sorry end. >> you hope for something like that. the best-case scenario being this individual doesn't have explosives with them and this was an attempt to get some kind of personal aim or personal goal achieved. with all of this unfolding in front of our eyes, we don't know. philip baum joining us on the line. philip, thank you very much for that. we want to bring in jeffrey thomas.
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jeffrey, most of the passengers have been alo allowed to deplan. they appear to be calm and many had their luggage with them. they had time to pick that up and transported to the buss. the crew and four foreign nationals are still on board. what do you make of the scenario as we see it right now? >> well, of course, it is very early days, but keeping foreign nationals on board would possibly indicate that it may be associated with a terrorist act. we don't want to name any terrorist organizations at this stage. the fact egyptians have been released possibly indicates that the focus of this particular hijacking is directed at westerners or foreigners. beyond that, it's hard to work out exactly what's going on.
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as we have seen everybody was very calm. but mind you, we have probably been told to calmly walk off the aircraft. if you are instructed to do that, that's exactly what you are going to do. the fact they are led off would bring calmness to them as well. i would imagine. >> we were just listening to philip baum recalling that the last time he remembers a hijack scenario like this was a decade ago. can you remember an incident like this recently? it does seem more rare this day and age. >> it has become rather rare. you know, viewers may well remember the '60s, '70s and '80s we hijackings were common. there were almost 80 a year at its height.
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after 9/11, things changed. this is is a new development. a new development particularly associated with suicide. bombings we have seen of late and of course, the threat as an earlier guest suggested, it's very difficult to know whether someone has explosives under clothing. you have to take the threat as very real. >> that's what officials are doing right now. geoffrey thomas. stay close by. we'll need your insight here in the hours ahead as we continue to cover this breaking story. a hijacked egyptair flight has landed safely in cyprus, but negotiations are under way with the hijacker as the crew and four foreign nationals remain on board. stay with cnn as we prepare to speak with a former pilot who has been in situations like this before. we're back in a moment. well, it was nice to see everyone. i just wish it had been for a better reason. me, too, but the eulogy that frank's
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this is cnn breaking news. >> i'm errol barnett with breaking news out of cyprus this morning. a hijacked egyptair flight landed at larnaca international airport. it was en route to cairo with 81 passengers on board at the time. egyptair telling us negotiations are under way and they led to the release of the passengers you see there. most of the passengers on board, all egyptian. however at this moment, crew, seven of the crew members and four foreign nationals are still on board as these talks continue. the egyptian civil aviation ministry says the pilot was forced to divert the plane by a single hijacker who claimed to have a suicide belt. cyprus media report that the hijacker may have personal
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motives perhaps dealing with an ex-wife in cyprus. cnn has not been able to confirm that information. it is still unclear who this person is or what demands they are making. we want to give you perspective on incidents like this. we are joined by a former british airways pilot. he made an emergency landing with his wife involved in a hijacking some 15 years ago. roger, thanks for joining us on cnn at this time. first, as a pilot, tell us your story. what triggered your decision for a non standard landing? >> it wasn't quite that. one of your researchers was talking about hijacks and the like. my experience was from a training point of view. here in the united kingdom, the authorities used to regularly conduct training exercises. these were carried out on an aircraft full of passengers. the scenario being that the
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aircraft had had an incident and was unairworthy. the training aspect, the negotiations on the ground at heathrow between the aircraft and authorities. just like at larnaca, we have the crew on the aircraft with a number of passengers still held by the hijacker and they will be negotiating as to a safe conclusion so the aspects of my incident was the negotiation that go on from the aircraft through to the authorities so that everybody is up to speed so to speak with the various procedures that were in place. i think the crew's issue here that we have obviously since 9/11 got a very much a lot sealed flight deck environment. one is still in communication with the cabin crew. the last thing you do is open
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the flight deck door in this case. you are going to take information from the cabin crew. it would suggest they felt this hijacker had some sort of device. nobody's been able to confirm that. one has to assume the worst. in this case, the flight crew did what they were required without hopefully allowing the hijacker into the flight deck to bring the aircraft into larnaca. then it becomes a negotiation issue with the total release of the crew and remaining passengers safely. >> what would a moment for the crew be like this? you pilots already have nerves of steel to do the jobs you have. an incident like this, the pilot telling the egyptian civil aviation ministry that the passenger claimed to have a suicide belt. decision was made to land the plane here and continue with the talks. those talks be conducted through
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the pilot? through staff? literally be holding up a phone to the hijacker? >> initially on the normal vhf frequency. at larnaca, you have normal ground control frequency. other frequencies used around the airfield. they will have is one or two dedicated for this sort of negotiation. they will change one of the radio sets to the remote frequency. the negotiation will be carried out on that frequency. it can get a little bit more sophisticated. a communication lead to be placed into the head set jack. a small plug normally used by the ground engineer during the engines starting. one can plug that in so a remote far more secure communication
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link could be established with the aircraft. >> just for viewers who are tuning in right now. we are speaking with roger guiver. former british airways pilot from oxford. we are watching the pictures where the egyptair flight has been hijacked and diverted to cyprus. roger, your wife was involved in a haijacking some 15 years ago. it was more common decades ago. what can you tell us about her experience? >> they had just done a flight and a gentleman tried to gain access to the flight deck. the crew are very well trained.
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so it was picked up early on. one cabin crew member was injured, but others managed to restrain the passenger. the surprising thing, talking to the crew, was how at that time, this is back in the 1970s, how the passengers were very happy just to sit and watch. now a days when you look at 9/11, passengers seem quite rightly to realize the situation they were in and took action. back in the 1970s, it was all sort of oh, gosh. what's happening here. i don't think many people bearing in mind there weren't such things as suicide bombers and the like and so most hijacks ended up with the hijackers still remaining alive and sometimes in captivity and
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sometimes not. things have moved on. >> it is much of a different world we're in now. i know your experience with british airways. this is an airbus 320 egyptair. what resources would a flight crew have available? sometimes you hear of the flight crew being able to restrain an unruly passenger using extra seatbelts. is it suggested to try to gauge with someone making these threats? if so, what tools would they even have? >> within the cabin, there are restraint devices. i've had a passenger that was very violent and we within the airline and with all u.k. airlines, initially it used to be devices to just tie the wrists together and we went to
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handcuffs. and a couple occasions, i actually had to authorize the use of handcuffs. in this occasion, it was just unruly drunken passengers. the same procedures that the cabin crew training is superb to overcome, although a bit more difficult, as somebody saying i have a suicide vest on. the training they go through allows them to use all of the various devices on the aircraft. the flight crew's side of it is very much remaining removed from what is going on in the cabin by the locked flight deck door. obviously, they have communication with air traffic control and through the authorities. initially by a secure code that will straightaway highlight on the radar controllers' radar
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screen to show there has been an hijack that actually occurred. thereafter, it goes to the communications via vhf through radio to pass as much information on such as the authorities are aware of what's going on and they can formulate a plan. >> as far as the information, what we know now, many of the passengers were able to deplane. the crew and four foreign nationals are still on board. the egyptian civil aviation ministry telling us the negotiations are still under way. egyptair has been sending out regular tweets confirming the hijacking and the information. they just sent another emergency out. emergency call center number for anyone who is within egypt or internationally to contact them
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to get more information. how much information is an airline meant to make public? how much are they supposed to keep private in a situation like this? >> well, i think one has to realize with a lot of hijackers, they are professionally trained. they know all of the equipment that's available on the aircraft. so one in the case of here at cyprus, one is a local say television or radio station, has to be careful what they actually say. the hijackers are almost certainly, especially with radio, going to be listening to what's being said. for example, all these passengers have been released will be debriefed. i would be surprised if you see any of them for a day or so because they know a lot more about what is going in the aircraft prior to them being allowed to leave. with that, i agree with a
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previous caller of yours. everything seems with the way they left the aircraft indicate calm. it was almost a normal d disembarkation. passengers want to get off as soon as possible. i would not say in a panic, but they don't leave as calmly as they did and strolling toward the coach to take them to the terminal. i think things would seem quite calm on the aircraft or with hijacker still retaining a number of passengers and crew. >> roger guiver, a former british airways pilot giving us personal insight and training during times like this. roger, i appreciate that. we are watching pictures of the
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crew and several individuals still on the plane. a person claims to have explosives with negotiations continuing. more on that story after this.
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this is cnn breaking news. >> i'm errol barnett at cnn center. the hijacked egypt flight in cyprus. here's how the events unfold the. egyptair ms 181 left alexanderia airport at 6:30 a.m. a short time after takeoff, the many was hijacked. an egyptian team, we're told is
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negotiates with the hijacker. all passengers have been released except for five foreign nationals and crew members. all flights in larnaca are being diverted. that is the latest information as we have it. we want to bring in ian lee. he is joining us live from the destination of the flight cairo. ian, it appears that most passengers have left the aircraft. these negotiations have continued. but what more do we know about the situation? >> that's right. just to recap, there are seven crew members on board the plane and five foreigners. earlier, we heard that four foreigners were left on the plane. the ministry corrected that. there are five. right now, they are looking into the motivation behind the incident. there has been some doubt cast by the egyptian officials about whether this is an explosive device like the hijacker claims.
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one egyptian official saying quote i doubt he had explosives because security has been heightened across egyptian airports, but we will be able to confirm that later. this official is referencing the fact that ever since october when the russian metro jet plane was blown up over egypt, that officials have stepped up security at airports across the country. we do not know if this hijacker's explosive device which he claims is real or not. officials and the pilot aren't taking any chances that plane landing in larnaca. what we are hearing from egyptian officials, we are hearing eight americans, four dutch, two from belgium, four from the u.k. one syrian, one french and one
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italian. 21 foreigners were on the flight. a lot of egyptians have dual nationality. that could be the reason why five foreigners on the plane. that number, that 21 foreigners comes from egypt's ministry of civil aviation. right now, egyptian officials are working closely with officials in cyprus trying to resolve the situation peacefully. errol. >> that is right. it is not uncommon for breaking incidents for details fluctuate slightly. that may continue to happen. ian lee is getting the latest information from cairo. we will join you later. let's turn to journalist in athens. she joins us on the line with the breaking story. linda, it has been a few hours the flight had been hijacked and diverted and now on the runway in cyprus.
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what information do you have on the breaking story? >> the news we have so far are the negotiation are under way. it's very good the two sides established contact and actually talking. also the release of most of the passengers has been taken as a positive step. we know four foreign nationals remain on the plane. the identity of the hijacker has been released. he is an egyptian national. reports emerging he is asking for political asylum in cyprus. it remains to be confirmed. it does seem to take to distance us a bit from the fear of a possible terrorist attack. it does seem to be the case this man could actually have personal motives that led him to this
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decision. this is all, of course, yet to be confirmed information. we know the plane has been in a secure part of larnaca away from all people and all flights have been diverted to other airports. that area remains very much under police control and a situation seems to be sort of being more controlled than previously. >> that's a very interesting possibility there, elinda. we received a state from the egyptian president in the past few minutes. simply underscoring his commitment to the safety and security of passengers and he is coordinating with counterpart there in cyprus. we don't know for sure if this individual is seeking asylum. if that's been confirmed. however, what is the relationship with egypt and cyprus? >> reporter: the relationship
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with egypt and cyprus, because they're neighbors in the same area. it's had its problems in the past, but overall,s positive. the two sides are talking at the moment and trying to resolve this situation. this emergency situation. we heard this from the cyprus authorities as well. the two countries where there are trade agreements. a lot of movement between the two. a lot of commercial links with the two sides. it is clear both will try to do their best to do what's best for those on board and to try to resolve the situation. >> elinda, in athens for us to get information on the breaking story. hijacked egyptair flight. most passengers off loaded. crew and five foreign nationals still on board.
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i want to bring in the chair of the contemporary middle east studies of economics. you have to reach back at least a decade to find a similar incident of a plane hijacking. what do you make of what we are seeing right now? >> you are absolutely correct. this is quite surprising at this particular moment because most of the terrorists driven attacks are deadly attacks. the other downed a plane like the russian jet in sinai last year. or basically they kill tourists and foreigners. this is a different attack. that's why and this is more hope on my part as opposed to having any information. this could be the work of one or two hijackers or individuals who are very angry or personal reasons or vendetta against the egyptian security forces.
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we have to wait and see. a bit alarm by the fact that the hijacker or hijackers have allowed all egyptians to leave the plane except five foreigners and crew. this tells me it might be a political or ideological reason or for negotiating strategy with the egyptian authorities. we have to wait and see. the big point here is that i don't understand after, you know, some major security problems with egyptian security forces and basically airports. how this hijacker hijackers were able to get an explosive device if there is is an explosive device, on the plane. we know this was an internal flight. we know internal flights don't have regular security checks. it was alexanderia and cairo.
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we have to wait and see on the motivation behind this particular hijacking. it seems to me that on the fact is there are only foreigners and egyptian crew left on the plane that basically the hijack hijacker or hijackers want to negotiate. >> has egypt had to deal with a situation like this in recent memory? a hijacking of an aircraft rarely results in the hijacker getting their demands. would they be hard pressed in the day of modern terror attacks? as you mentioned suicide attacks. would they find it difficult to try to resolve everything if this individual has personal aims if that is what is playing out? >> we have to wait and see what the demands of the hijacker or
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hijackers. if it is really petty demands, i imagine the authorities don't want to turn this particular development into a greater tragedy. egypt is facing multiple insurgencies as you know in the sinai in particular. hundreds of egyptian officers have been killed. hundreds come back to the russian jet. the reality is the egyptian economy is suffering a great deal. the tourist sector has basically suffered a major setback in the past year as a result of the drying up of tourists. my take is the egyptian government is going to do it's utmost to prevent the particular incident from turning into a greater one because it effects the economy.
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the egyptian authorities would be hard pressed to make any major concessions because they are facing multiple insurgencies if they give up to this particular demand, the hijacker or hijackers, this could become a major security problem for egypt in the next few months or years. >> we don't know if this is one individual at play or an organized network. it is unclear at this point. we know someone has been able to force the egyptair to divert from the original route and land at larnaca airport. we're going to gather more information on the still breaking story. stay with cnn.
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i want to update you on the breaking news from cyprus. a hijacked egyptair ms-181 was diverted to cyprus. negotiations with the hijacker safely freed most of the passengers. you see them here appearing to deplane casually moments ago. four to five more individuals were seen exiting the plane. these are positive developments. the egyptian civil aviation ministry saying the pilot was forced to divert the aircraft by a single hijacker with a suicide belt. they claimed to have explosives with them. cyprus media report that the
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hijacker may have had personal motives with an ex-wife in cyprus. we don't know who this person is or what demands he is making. we continue to attempt to get confirmation on all this. let's bring in ian lee who is watching this for us from cairo. a fast developing story. ian, what information do you have? >> reporter: i just got off the phone with the spokesman of the president here. he told me the name of the hijacker is ibrahim isramaha. that is the person that took control of the plane. he also added that this is a person who is a dual national as well. an egyptian. according to the spokesperson, egyptian-american national is the hijacker. this is coming from the egyptian
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presidency. we cannot independently verify that information right now. what we are hearing from the egyptian officials, we are expecting an announcement from the civil aviation. we will get more information from the press conference shortly. we can recap what took place. 6:30 this morning, a plane from al alexandria, egypt. a short flight diverted to larnaca in cyprus. the hijack has released all egyptians, except for five foreign nationals, seven crew members remain on board. the air space around that area have been diverted, or flights diverted. egyptian officials want a
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peaceful resolution to the situation. >> ian, it is good to get new information from you the hijacker confirmed is ibrahim samalha. you are saying he is an egyptian-american. were any other details made available of the motivation or what demands he's making? >> reporter: that's it. this is coming from the spokesman of the egyptian presidency who i just talked to confirming this information with me. that is all the information he's releasing right now. he's saying that more will be released at a press conference that's supposed to take place ten minutes from now. >> we will carry that live here on cnn. ian lee, live for us in cairo, with that information. hijackers confirmed to him as ibrahim samalha. i want to get background
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information from larnaca airport. 46 flights supposed to be arriving today. one flight arriving from cairo. another scheduled to depart cairo. most of the day's scheduled arrivals from athens. more than 1 million passengers travel through the airport in 2015. more than 60 airlines have counters. lufthansa as well as others. for more of the reaction from the still breaking story, let's go to cnn kelly morgan joining us live from london with how europeans are reacting to what we're seeing. kelly. >> reporter: errol, we are seeing a heightened security across europe since last week since the brussels attacks unfolded. there is a heightened security in place. in fact, even before the
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attacks, we have seen more vigilance across europe. the vigilance has been improved because since january last year, there have been 14 terror attacks on european soul. it is a legitimate concern. the british government has improved its security measures. the home secretary teresa may last week outlining some of the increased measures the day after the brussels attacks. she said there are a number of measures. including security checks on some flights. also a greater cooperation between european counterintelligence services and also importantly working with countries, third countries is the way they term them to increase security at airports. there has been a greater vigilance and heightened security at airports in general. not specifically in reaction to today, errol.
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>> as we get new information, it is highly possible this is one individual who may have a personal axe to grind or personally seeking asylum in cyprus. the news of that and i knows it just coming across in the past hour, surely must be a relief. there is a heightened security stance at airports? >> reporter: yes. the heightened security relate to a heightened terror threat. we see the huge migration crisis and frustration. the closed borders. again, in response to fears about the safety of people in europe. so while we wait for further details about the motive behind the hijacking, there is a
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heightened security. lots of questions to be answered. more details to come out. if it is indeed a need for asylum, this is an extreme way of illustrating the frustration of the closed borders across europe and it gets us back to the issue of the migration crisis which is only going to escalate as we get into the warmer months. >> kellie morgan live in london with the european reaction to all of this. we're looking at footage there from the airport where the egyptair plane is on the runway. most passengers deplaned. we have seen more individuals removed from the plane recently. it's unclear with the still developing breaking story what is taking place. i want to get you this
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information coming in to cnn. the egyptair hijacker, as ian mentioned to us a short time ago, is confirmed as an egyptian national. who hijacked this aircraft over his ex-wife who lives in cyprus or is from cyprus. this is a spokesperson for the cypriot spoke person of ministry. this is a person who hijacked the aircraft over a disagreement with his wife. he goes on to tell cnn this may be the best news we could bring you at the moment. this incident is not related to terrorism. the vice chairman of egyptair joins us on the phone with the latest information. vice chairman, thank fs for you time. what can you tell you?
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>> mr. barnett, thank you. our flight 181 was bound for alexandria. we got a call from the operations from the captain that he has information about one person whose claiming to have an explosive belt and asked to divert the plane to istanbul or anywhere else in europe. the captain informed him there is not enough fuel to land in istanbul, so he landed at larnaca airport. as of now, we have 55 passengers and 8 crew. we had negotiated and a lot of people disembarked the plane. we have the captain and first officer plus one crew member and one security person, four
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passengers and hijacker. what i can say to you is there was no way the hijacker got in the cockpit as the door was locked and closed. no intervention in the cockpit. he is still in the cabin. he's claiming to have an explosive vest. rumors about a gun on the plane. that was never confirmed. this is a situation as of now. >> what demands is he making? >> i'm sorry. i have a very bad connection. can you raise your voice? >> what demands is the hijacker making? >> as of now, there were no demands. he was talking about having maybe cypriot wife to talk to. and authorities are dealing with that. >> listening there to the vice
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chairman of egyptair ahmed adel. confirming one individual hijacker claiming to have an explosive belt which is still yet to be confirmed. he did not know of any specific demands. he mentioned it may have something to do with his wife. he initially wanted this flight diverted to istanbul. the pilot for whatever reason, made the decision to instead divert the flight to larnaca airport in cyprus. negotiations are continuing. we do want you to stay with cnn as we get more information on the breaking story. for you looking to get details, if you have friends or family on the flight, take a shot of the numbers on your screen. follow egyptair on twitter. i'm errol barnett at cnn center. our breaking news continues after this short break.
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breaking news. an egyptair hijacked. forced to land in cyprus. we know the identification of the hijacker who claimed he is wearing an explosive belt. some of the crew and several foreign passengers are still being held on board the flight. good morning. welcome to "early start." i'm alison kosik. >> i'm christine romans. it is tuesday, march 29th. welcome to our viewers in the u.s. and around the world. breaking news. it is noon now in cyprus where all but a handful of passengers and crew have been released. there are still people on board that flight. you can see the passengers going into the terminal. this is is airbus 320 with 80 on board. it was e

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