Hijackers with message for Pope seize Turkish airliner

Tuesday, October 3, 2006

Turkish Airlines Flight 1476, a Boeing 737 aircraft with 113 passengers and crew on board was hijacked on Tuesday, during a flight from Tirana, Albania to Istanbul, Turkey by one Turk.

The plane was flown to Brindisi in southern Italy. It sent out an SOS twice in Greek airspace, and both Greece and Italy scrambled F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter jets to escort it before it landed in Brindisi. The hijacker was unarmed, said the chairman of Turkish Airlines's board of directors, Candan Karlitekin. According to Karlitekin no one was injured.

A Greek defence official who spoke to Reuters said the plane had entered Greek air space at 17:58 local time (14:58 UTC) and four Greek fighters took off to escort it. The Italian air force in turn sent up two F-16s to intercept the plane and reportedly forced it to land.

"Passengers have started to leave the plane," an ENAC spokeswoman said.