How It Happened: The Malta Hijack That Ended With All Hostages Safely Released
Hijackers have now surrendered – here's a step by step account of how it happened
1. An Airbus A320 took off from Sebha in the centre of Libya at 10.10am. It was meant to land in Tripoli at 11.20am but two hijackers took over and demanded that the plane is diverted to Malta.
2. Prime Minister Joseph Muscat broke the news in a Tweet as the plane touched down in Malta.
3. Suddenly the story became the biggest story across international media.
Libyan passenger plane diverted to Malta - Maltese PM calls it "potential hijack situation" https://t.co/1TBkevXX0H— BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) December 23, 2016
4. Negotiations with hijackers began as it emerged that a baby was among the hostages.
It has been established that #Afriqiyah flight has 111 passengers on board. 82 males, 28 females, 1 infant.— Joseph Muscat (@JosephMuscat_JM) December 23, 2016
5. Al Arabiya reports that a Libyan MP is on board, as speculation mounts as to the hijackers' demands.
6. The exit doors open and the first women and children started to be evacuated.
Hijackers of Libyan plane diverted to Malta agree to release 25 hostages https://t.co/r6O8KCuVz8— The Guardian (@guardian) December 23, 2016
First group of passengers, consisting of women and children, being released now.— Joseph Muscat (@JosephMuscat_JM) December 23, 2016
7. Another group of hostages are evacuated, men included.
65 passengers released so far.— Joseph Muscat (@JosephMuscat_JM) December 23, 2016
8. All the passengers are evacuated, including some members of crew. But the hijackers and pilots remain on board.
Potentially 2 hijackers and some crew members still on board aircraft.— Joseph Muscat (@JosephMuscat_JM) December 23, 2016
9. One hijacker emerges from the plane wearing a beige suit and waving a green flag, displaying his support of former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. He goes back into the plane.
10. News emerges that the hijackers wanted asylum in Malta. Other reports state that the hijackers want to begin a political party in favour of Gaddafi.
11. The rest of the crew leaves the plane sandwiched between the two hijackers who are soon disarmed by the Armed Forces Of Malta
Final crew members leaving aircraft with hijackers.— Joseph Muscat (@JosephMuscat_JM) December 23, 2016
12. Joseph Muscat announces the end of the hijack drama.
Hijackers surrendered, searched and taken in custody.— Joseph Muscat (@JosephMuscat_JM) December 23, 2016