The pilot of a hijacked Cyprus Airways plane has described the gun battle at Larnaca Airport in which 15 Egyptian commandos were killed.
GV PAN AND CU: wreckage of Egyptian military aircraft on tarmac (4 shots)
GV: hijacked aircraft on tarmac at Larnaca airport.
SV AND CU: damaged aircraft door.
SV: cockpit ZOOM IN TO CU: bullethole in window.
CU: Captain Sam Melling describing the attack with shots of damaged aircraft overlay.
TRANSCRIPT: SEQ. 5: MELLING: "Well my feeling is that had they managed to board the airplane everybody would have been killed on board. When the shooting started in seemed to be directed at the cockpit area more than the rest of the aircraft and there were two pilots in the cockpit; every other soul on board was down at the rear of the aircraft so it was indiscriminate in that manner."
REPORTER: "What about the hijackers themselves. What were they doing while all this was going on?"
MELLING: "They were, like everybody else, lying on the floor and asking a lot of questions, shouting to me as to who was firing. I didn't really know who was firing. I knew they were Egyptians firing, but there were a lot of other shots directed towards the aircraft at this time from the area of the terminal building from the National Guard and of course we were in the line of fire from both sides at this stage."
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: The pilot of a hijacked Cyprus Airways plane has described the gun battle at Larnaca Airport in which 15 Egyptian commandos were killed. Englishman Sam Melling volunteered to fly the plane after 11 hostages were taken on board by two gunmen who killed Egyptian journalist Youssef Sibai on February 18th.
SYNOPSIS: An Egyptian transport plane was destroyed in the fighting between the commandos and Greek-Cypriot National Guardsmen at Larnaca Airport. They'd flown in to try to free the hostages and crew of the hijacked plane, but their intervention caused an international incident and resulted in Egypt's withdrawal of diplomatic relations with Cyprus.
Commandos drove up to the hijacked plane and fired tracer bullets at the front door but a National Guardsman threw a grenade into their vehicle and killed them. Captain Melling was asked what he thought would have happened if the Egyptians had succeeded in entering the plane before the hijackers had surrendered.