Passengers and air hostesses from a hijacked k.L.M. Royal Dutch Airlines jumbo jet were freed?
Passengers and air hostesses from a hijacked k.L.M. Royal Dutch Airlines jumbo jet were freed at Molta's Luqa Airport late on Monday night (26 November) before the big jet flew on to Dubai in the Middle East.
Three Arab gunmen Claiming to be Palestinian Nationalists seized the airliners over Iraq on Sunday (25 November) on its way to Tokyo. They forced it to fly to Damascus, Nicosia and Tripoli before touching down at Malta.
The gunmen said they were Palestinians belonging to the "Organisation of Nationalist Arab Youth for the Liberation of Palestine" -- but were disowned by the official commando movement. According to passengers, the hijackers were two middle aged men and an 18-year-old youth, armed with pistols and daggers and all "very nervous". They boarded the aircraft in Beirut. The passengers -- most of them Japanese -- said the Arabs threatened to blow up the aircraft several time and at one stage actually planted bombs on the windows.
At Malta, the captain of the jet warned the aircraft would be blown up if any attempt was made to seize it.
Later, after negotiations with the Maltese Prime Minister Dom Mintoff, the hijackers agreed to release the 240 passengers after being told the giant 'plane could not safely take off again from the short runway with them still on board. They also agreed to free eight hostesses.
The passengers had to leave the jumbo aircraft by emergency chutes because there was not an aircraft loading ramp high enough in Malta to take them off. As they left the aircraft, the passengers were taken by waiting buses to a hotel. A K.L.M. doctor said none of them had been hurt -- although one fainted on reaching the hotel. The passengers were to be flown home in K.L.M. aircraft sent from Amsterdam.
The hijacked jet took off and eventually landed in Dubai after its captain had radioed to the control tower that he was running short of fuel.