One of the most bizarre and inconclusive recent hijackings ended in Libya today (Tuesday, July 24).
SV AIRPORT OFFICIALS AT DUBAI AIRPORT
SV AND CU AMBULANCE PAST NEWSMEN (2 SHOTS)
LV AIRCRAFT TAKES OFF IN DARKNESS
GV GATWICK AIRPORT
MV MATHIESON INTERVIEWED.
Question: "Your 'plane landed from Nairobi at Benghazi?"
Mathieson: "That's right, yes. It was six o'clock in the morning. Dawn was just breaking over the desert around the airport."
Question: "And could you see the hijacked JAL when you landed?"
Mathieson: "Yes, we had just landed, we were in the middle of refuelling when we heard it was coming in to land. It was too late to take off. The pilot apparently was trying to. He manoeuvred out onto the runway to try and take off. It was too late. It had already landed. As soon as it landed the front section of the 'plane blew up..."
Question: "As soon as the 'plant landed?"
Mathieson: "As soon as their 'plane landed."
Question: "But the people had gotten off?"
Mathieson: "They were getting off as the front section went off."
Question: "The front section blew up as...?"
Mathieson: "Just the cockpit. It was a small explosion, like a grenade. It wasn't a big one. Just the cockpit. As they came out of the emergency chutes they were herded alongside, about 100 yards from the 'plane. We couldn't see who was herding them or how they were being keep, but they were there. We must sat and watched them for about quarter of an hour. The flames licked right the way down the fuselage, further and further. There were no fire appliances or anything. Nothing whatsoever. We were getting a bit worried our selves because we couldn't get any further away in case it went off. And eventually a fleet of vehicles came out, took everybody away, the passengers, who were still all tight together. And about ten minutes after they'd got out, the whole thing just went up. They had a bomb on board."
Initials AH/02.20 AH/02.30
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: One of the most bizarre and inconclusive recent hijackings ended in Libya today (Tuesday, July 24). For three days, the 137 hostages abroad the hijacked Japanese Jumbo jet had been held in Dubai. Last night, the aircraft took off, and, after refuelling in Syria, finally landed in Benghazi, Libya.
Almost as soon as the jet touched down, eye-witnesses reported seeing an explosion. The 118 passengers, 19 crew and their captors slid down emergency chutes to safety. Minutes later an explosion ripped through the giant airliner.
Passengers aboard a British airliner, which had just refuelled at Benghazi, watched the last act of the drama unfold. One of them, Mr. Ian Mathieson, related the end of the hijacking. He was speaking to Visnews reporter Paul Davis: