Melbourne airport flights suspended due to MH128 incident

An aerial view of Melbourne's Tullamarine Airport.
PHOTO: The Star/Asia News Network

PETALING JAYA: Flights in and out of Melbourne's Tullamarine Airport are currently suspended and incoming planes are being diverted as a result of the incident onboard Malaysian Airlines Flight MH128, which returned to the airport after takeoff.

In an e-mail exchange, the airport's head of communications Grant Smith said they are unable to confirm specific destinations for individual flights.

Several departing flights were also held on the ground at the airport, and incident response is being coordinated through Victoria Police.

In an official statement early Thursday morning, Victoria Police confirmed that a man tried to enter the cockpit and "threatened the safety of passengers and staff".

"Emergency services were called to Tullamarine Airport around 11.40pm last night after a request for assistance from an airline," said Victoria Police media officer Senior Constable Adam West.

West said that the plane landed safely at the airport and the passengers had exited the plane and were speaking to investigators.

"There appears to be no imminent threat to passengers, staff or public and the investigation is ongoing," he said.

According to Smith, all flights are impacted at this time.

Man tries to hijack Malaysia Airlines MH128

  • Passengers told of some 90 minutes of onboard drama after a Malaysia Airlines flight was forced to return to Melbourne when a man allegedly threatened to blow up the plane.
  • Kuala Lumpur-bound Flight MH128 left Melbourne but turned back shortly afterwards.
  • A Sri Lankan national, who appeared to have been drunk, was later overpowered by the plane's crew and arrested.
  • "The staff were saying, 'sit back down sir, sit back down sir'. He goes 'no, I'm not going to sit back down, I'm going to blow the plane up'," a witness said.
  • The man ran to the back of the plane, where two other men grabbed and disarmed him of a "giant black thing" and "put hog ties on him".
  • Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Seri Aziz Ab Kaprawi said the plane was not hijacked, adding that one disruptive passenger tried to enter the plane's cockpit.
  • "The passenger... claimed to have a bomb. But it was not a bomb but a powerbank," Aziz told AFP
  • Victoria state police said in a statement that a man allegedly tried to enter the cockpit and threatened the safety of passengers and staff," but added that he "did not gain entry to the cockpit" and was subdued.
  • A plane believed to be Malaysia Airlines flight MH128 returns from the hangers following its forced return in Melbourne
  • Police officers stand guard after Malaysia Airlines flight MH128 returned to the airport following its forced return in Melbourne
  • A passenger speaks to the press after Malaysia Airlines flight MH128 landed safely at the airport following its forced return in Melbourne

"Travellers with scheduled flights for today should check directly with their airlines for the latest information relating to their flight," he added.

As for anyone who was planning on heading to the airport to meet an inbound traveller, Smith advised said parties to "please stay home".

For the time being, flight MH128 passengers were asked to leave all their bags and belongings aboard the plane while they were transferred to the terminal building.

Malaysian passenger Fariza Zanuddin said passengers were given water and cheese while waiting.

H128 passengers at the airport building after disembarking from the plane.
Photo: Fariza Zanuddin

 

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