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Hijacked plane lands in Geneva: reports
Hijacked plane lands in Geneva: reports

Update: An Ethiopian Airlines flight en route to Rome was hijacked by the co-pilot and forced to land in Geneva, according to an airport spokesman.

The co-pilot said he had seized his chance when the pilot went to the bathroom, Bertrand Staempfli, the airport spokesman, said.

“He said he felt threatened in his country and wants to seek asylum in Switzerland,” he said.

The man, born in 1983 and an Ethiopian citizen, had contacted Geneva Airport and said “he needed to land to fill the tank. After that he announced the hijacking,” Mr Staempfli said.

“At 6:02 am, the plane landed safely,” he said, adding that the co-pilot had left the plane by scaling down a rope he had thrown out of the cockpit window.

“He didn’t have a weapon with him,” he said, adding that the hijacker would go before a judge later on Monday.

Technically, he could be charged with “hostage-taking,” and could face up to 20 years in prison, Mr Staempfli said.

Flight ET-702 from Addis Ababa to Rome landed in Geneva at 6am (1600 AEDT), Geneva police spokesman Christophe Fortis said.

There were no immediate reports of injuries and Ethiopian Airlines said in a statement in Addis Ababa that “the passengers are safe and sound”.

The plane was parked at a far end of a runway crowded with police and other emergency vehicles, with passengers filing out with their arms up in the air before getting on to waiting buses.

The bizarre flight pattern of flight 702 as captured by FlightRadar. Photo: Supplied

According to the ATS news agency, the flight was carrying some 200 people and was hijacked as it flew over Sudan.

The Boeing 767, which left Addis Ababa early on Monday and had been due to land in the Italian capital four hours later.

All flights to and from the Geneva airport early Monday had either been diverted or cancelled.

The airport was gradually reopening, with landings starting up again at 8am and takeoffs scheduled to begin at 8.45am, according to a spokesman.