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False South African plane hijacking alert causes panic in Pretoria

False South African plane hijacking alert causes panic in Pretoria

South Africa

72 passengers in South African airline Airlink were welcomed at the Wonderboom airport in Pretoria on Monday by armed policemen after a hijacking alert was emitted from the plane.

The flight SA8678 from Cape Town to Wonderboom was earlier reported to have been hijacked, alerting police who rushed to the airport all set and armed to handle a hijacking situation.

South African media News24 reported that passengers saw police surrounding the plane with guns as buses and ambulances were driving towards the plane.

Operations are back to normal and authorities held the aircraft as a prescribed precautionary measure while they verify that all is in good order.

“When we landed, we apparently had to just stand still in the runway. The pilot announced it was a technical error,” one of the passengers said.

Airlink later announced in a tweet that the alert was an anomaly and that the passengers and crew members were safe.

“We have been in contact with our pilots & can confirm that no hijacking has taken place,” it added.

The airline later released a statement saying the aircraft “emitted an anomalous hijack alert through its transponder”.

“Operations are back to normal and authorities held the aircraft as a prescribed precautionary measure while they verify that all is in good order,” it added.

Airlink said it would assist authorities with their inquiry, which is mandatory, and has also “initiated an internal investigation into the erroneous transmission”.