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Ethiopian Airlines plane hijacked, forced to land at Geneva International Airport

Geneva, Feb 17 (): An Ethiopian Airlines jet that took off from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to Rome was hijacked Monday and forced to land in Geneva, authorities said.

Flight 702 was scheduled to leave Addis Ababa at 00:30 local time (21:30 GMT), and arrive in Rome at 04:40 local time. Geneva police confirmed the plane – a Boeing 767-300 – had made an unscheduled landing in the Swiss city at 06:00.

Reports said that the crew of the plane sent a signal that it has been hijacked while it was travelling over Sudan. Flightradar24.com, a website that tracks fights, said the plane made multiple loops around the airport before landing.

The hijacker has been arrested in Geneva and all the passengers on the flight have left the plane safely, Geneva airport authorities told. No details of the hijacking have been released.

No one on board was injured. All 200 passengers and crew on board the plane were in good health, Ethiopian Airlines said. Passengers came out of the aircraft at about 08:00 (local time) while surrounded by dozens of police.

Flights to Geneva Airport are being diverted, delayed or cancelled following the closure of the airport due to the landing of the hijacked Ethiopian Airlines plane. But, the situation is under control, authorities said.

The airport spokesman said authorities would hold a news conference at 9 a.m. Central European Time (3 a.m. ET). The reason for the hijacking is unclear, although there are unproven reports that at least some of those on board the aircraft may have been asking for asylum.

An Ethiopian Airlines flight was hijacked in 1996 after taking off from Addis Ababa and crashed into the Indian Ocean after the jet ran out of fuel. The crash killed 125 of the 175 people aboard, including the three hijackers aboard who demanded the jet be flown to Australia so they could seek asylum.

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