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Panic as passenger storms jet cockpit
NAIROBI, Kenya -- A passenger on a British Airways flight to Nairobi broke into the jumbo jet's cockpit and attempted to grab the controls, sending the plane into uncontrolled dives.
The plane's automatic pilot was disengaged during Friday's incident, causing a series of violent manoeuvres as aircrew struggled to restrain the man, BA said.
BA said one crew member suffered a broken ankle and some passengers sustained minor injuries. The man was restrained by crew before the aircraft landed safely at Nairobi, Kenya, where he was arrested.
Once the intruder had been subdued, the captain told passengers that "a very nasty man just tried to kill us all," a passenger said.
Kenyan police said they had detained a 27-year-old Kenyan man but declined to say where he lived or what his motive may have been.
"We are holding him for purposes of investigation," police spokesman Dola Ndidis told Reuters. "We don't want to speculate on whether he will be charged or not. Investigations might show he was a sick man."
Passenger Benjamin Goldsmith said he thought the plane was going to crash.
"Everyone was woken up by some screaming then the plane went into a dive at a really weird angle," he told Sky News.
"There was violent shuddering and then the engines cut out altogether. This was a scene of an aeroplane about to crash."
He said: "We were told four or five seconds more and the co-pilot wouldn't have been able to regain control.
"I don't think there was a single person on the plane who didn't think we were going to crash. There were grown men screaming."
Five people were taken to hospital after the aircraft landed.
The Boeing 747 jet had 379 passengers on board plus three flight crew and 16 cabin crew. It had taken off from London's Gatwick airport.
"A male passenger entered the flight deck and attempted to seize the flight controls," said a BA spokeswoman.
"Flight crew struggled with the passenger during which the auto pilot became disengaged.
"A number of passengers are believed to have suffered relatively minor injuries as the aircraft made sudden manoeuvres during the struggle," she added.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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