Hijacker desperate to flee poverty

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 February, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 February, 2003, 12:00am

A man who tried to hijack an Air China plane from Beijing to Taipei was desperate to escape from poverty, state media said yesterday.

Dong Yue was detained by police at Changle airport in Fuzhou yesterday for further investigation following Sunday's attempt, the People's Daily reported on its Web site.

It said the 39-year-old from Liaoning province was married with twins, but had been sacked from his job with a security company.

'According to him, he hijacked the plane because he was unable to make a living and his health was poor,' the report said.

Officials have publicly expressed fears that rising unemployment and a lack of meaningful social support by the government could drive people to crime.

According to an earlier report by Xinhua, flight 1505 left Beijing on Sunday for Fuzhou with 160 passengers and crew on board. When it neared its destination, Dong poured petrol hidden in a drinks can down the aisle and demanded to be taken to Taiwan.

Xinhua said Dong was subdued by crew members and passengers when he tried to ignite the fuel.

Two passengers suffered mild burns to their clothes in the struggle.

It was the second such incident in China in less than two weeks. On January 24, a man set off firecrackers on board a Sichuan Airlines plane flying from Chongqing to Chengdu.

The mainland suffered a spate of hijackings in the mid-1990s by people trying to reach Taiwan. The incidents ended when airport security was tightened and hijackers were sent back to the mainland to discourage copycat crimes.