Hijack attempt on Air China jet

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 27 July, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 27 July, 2004, 12:00am

Threat by a man with a history of mental illness forces Zhengzhou emergency landing

A 32-year-old man yesterday forced the emergency landing of an Air China passenger jet in Zhengzhou after claiming that a friend would spray acid in the plane if it did not take him to South Korea.

Yang Jinsong , a librarian of Xiangtan University in Hunan, who reportedly had a history of mental illness, was detained shortly after the plane landed at Xinxin Airport in Zhengzhou at 9.50am.

The ordeal began soon after the Boeing 737, with 108 passengers on board, left Beijing Airport at 8.40am heading for the Henan capital of Changsha .

The Xinhua news agency quoted passenger Lei Meilan as saying she saw a man about 1.65 metres tall, whom she later identified as Yang, walking up and down the cabin several times.

Ms Lei did not realise there was a hijack situation until a flight attendant told her after the incident that the man followed the crew into the galley and threatened to spray acid.

She told Xinhua that when the flight arrived in Zhengzhou, the passengers thought they had landed in Changsha.

Beijing's Legal Evening News quoted a witness as saying Yang shouted during the flight but had nothing in his hands.

The newspaper said the man had no dangerous belongings with him when he passed through the airport security check.

The Xinxin Airport control centre was alerted about an attempted hijacking.

Two plain-clothes police officers boarded the aircraft and took Yang away at 10.20am.

Zhengzhou police searched the aircraft and questioned the flight crew and passengers but did not find Yang's companion or any dangerous packages.

After a three-hour delay in Zhengzhou, the Air China jet resumed its flight to Changsha's Huanghua Airport and it arrived four hours later than scheduled.

A Changsha branch spokesman for Air China said no passengers asked for compensation.

No other flights in Beijing, Zhengzhou and Changsha were affected.

In February last year, an unemployed Liaoning man, Dong Yue , threatened to set fire to a bottle of fuel if the crew on an Air China flight from Beijing to Fuzhou did not fly to Taiwan. Dong was taken away by police and no one was injured.

China has toughened up in-flight security, especially since the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.