'Heroic' passengers tackle threat on flight from Melbourne

Cheryl Sanders
June 5, 2017

An incident on a Malaysia Airlines plane is not being treated as terrorism, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has told parliament.

Passengers were kept on the plane for 90 minutes after landing and the plane was searched for potential bombs at a remote part of the airport, Mr Ashton said. "It was not a bomb but a powerbank", he added.

A business class passenger, former Australian Rules football player Andrew Leoncelli, told Melbourne radio station 3AW that the arrested man threatened to blow the plane up.

Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down over the Ukraine in 2014 with the loss of all 283 passengers and 15 crew.

Police in tactical gear board a Malaysia Airlines plane after a man tried to enter its cockpit in Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, June 1, 2017.

Australian authorities screened all the bags on the plane and were working Thursday to return them to the other passengers, who were put up in hotels in Australia for the night, according to Malaysia Airlines.

In an updated statement later, MAS confirmed that the flight landed back at the airport approximately 30 minutes after departure, and the disruptive passenger was immediately apprehended by Australian security force personnel.

The unnamed man was charged with making threats and false claims, and endangering an aircraft's safety - offences that carry a 10-year sentence.

The source also told the Sydney Morning Herald said that the police were not informed that the man had already been restrained by crew and passengers.

He noted that the passengers' safety was the main concern and that the suspect was safely taken off the plane.

Armed officers from an elite police unit then boarded the flight, handcuffing him and escorting him off the plane.

"There's a giant black object on this plane, a insane guy wants to blow it up, who was subdued", the former footballer said in a video made while on the plane, seen by the Age. "Staff screamed "help, help help".

Malaysia Airlines would like to stress that at no point was the aircraft "hijacked".

"We do believe that he suffers from mental illnesses and the investigation is ongoing in relation to that", Langdon said.

"We believe that the actions of the passengers and crew were quite heroic", he said.

"I thought the plane was going to go down, I thought the bomb was going to go off, I really did think I was going to die".

"Honestly, when they were trying to get him down to the ground, and there was a lot of screaming, I genuinely did think that was it", she said.

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