An Etihad Airways flight from Melbourne to Abu Dhabi was forced to divert to Jakarta last night after fires caused by a passenger smoking in the toilets.

Etihad Airways released a statement this morning confirming that smoke alarms sounded twice during flight which left Melbourne at 11pm local time.

The flight diverted to Jakarta as a “precautionary measure” to investigate the source of the smoke.

In Jakarta, local authorities and crew conducted a security assessment of the situation and the flight resumed.

However about two hours out of Abu Dhabi, another smoke alarm sounded.

Terrified passengers quickly took to social media claiming the flight was diverted after a passenger attempted to light a number of fires in the aircraft toilets.

Instagram user Caroline Martens wrote: "Try having someone set the plane on fire, in two different places, having to emergency land in Jakarta, get back on after hours of investigations, for the idiot to set three more fires in three more toilets while mid-air and nowhere to land!!!!!"

The captain was forced to suspend all breakfast services so the cabin crew could guard and monitor the toilets.

Martens, a Norwegian pro-golfer, told Norwegian media company NKR that a fire was started "directly while we were above the sea".

"After a few hours I noticed that it smelled like smoke ... but I thought everything was fine and just fell asleep," she said.

"About two hours after I woke up as the fire alarm went off again."

The plane landed safely four hours behind schedule.

The circumstances are being investigated by Abu Dhabi police.

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