ISTANBUL, Turkey — A Pegasus Airlines plane landed at an Istanbul airport Friday after a passenger “said that there was a bomb on board” and wanted the plane to land in Sochi, Russia, the site of the Winter Olympics, said officials with Turkey’s Transportation Ministry.
“While the plane was in the air, one of the passengers said that there was a bomb on board and asked the plane to not land in Sabiha Gokcen (in Turkey) but rather to land in Sochi,” Transportation Ministry official Habip Soluk said Friday on CNNTurk.
The passenger said the bomb was in the baggage hold, a Transportation Ministry official said.
Official opening ceremonies for the Olympic Games began Friday in Sochi amid intense security against potential terror attacks.
The alleged hijacker was apparently in custody, as Cihan News Agency of Turkey published a photograph from inside the plane of a man with empty seats around him with two people in uniform.
Officials had no immediate details on why the alleged hijacker wanted to divert the plane to Sochi.
The 110 passengers are still on board the plane, a public diplomacy officer said Friday night in Turkey. Security officers were searching for a bomb aboard the plane, the transportation official said.
The alleged hijacker is of Ukrainian nationality, Soluk said.
The plane sent a hijacking signal, and after landing it was being held in a safe zone at Istanbul’s Sabiha Gokcen Airport, Turkish state media outlet TRT reported.
The plane had been flying a route between Kharkov in Ukraine, and Istanbul, the Transportation Ministry representative said. It wasn’t clear in which city the flight started.