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Philippine beauty queen in hijacked Turkish plane recounts confusion

Philippine beauty queen in hijacked Turkish plane recounts confusion

The Philippines' entrant to an international beauty contest who was on a plane hijacked by a Turkish man recounted on Wednesday the fear and confusion of the incident, and told how she turned to prayer as the drama unfolded over Eastern Europe.
Jamie Liz Castillo and three other Asian beauty queens were among 113 people on board the Turkish Airlines Boeing 737-400 that was hijacked by an unarmed man while flying from Albania to Istanbul on Tuesday.
They were on their way home after taking part in the Miss Globe International 2006 beauty pageant held in Albania.
Castillo, 23, told Manila's GMA TV network that the pilot informed passengers that the plane had experienced a technical problem and that they had to land in southern Italy.
"We were just told the reason after the hijackers got off the plane," she said.
A Turkish man seeking political asylum hijacked the jetliner in Greek airspace, forcing the pilots to fly to Italy, where he later surrendered and released the passengers unharmed. The plane landed at Italy's Brindisi airport under escort by two Italian military planes.
Albanian passengers got wind of the hijacking through their mobile phones while still in the air. An English speaking man told her and her companions about the potentially dangerous situation, but they could not understand the chatter around them, Castillo told GMA News from Istanbul.
"There was some confusion because we could not understand their language," Castillo said. "They (other passengers) just kept asking us to sit down or lie on the floor so there was some commotion inside the plane."
She said she prayed for strength.
In a separate interview with ABS-CBN television, Castillo said that the 23-year-old candidate from Malaysia, Angie Goh, wept and she and Miss Singapore, Mia Yan Tan, 25comforted her. Miss India, Kansksha Mehta, 19, was also with the group, she added.
"At that time, I was very, very scared ... I did not understand what was happening because everyone was speaking a different language," she said.
"The man burst into the cockpit and said, 'There's two of us,'" leading authorities initially to believe the man was not acting alone, said an Italian security official based in Brindisi. The official, speaking by telephone, gave details about the hijacking on condition his name not be used because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
"There was only one hijacker. He surrendered to authorities at the airport," the official said.


Updated : 2021-06-22 09:46 GMT+08:00