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Passenger’s bomb threat disrupts flight

KUALA LUMPUR/SYDNEY (Reuters) – Passengers and crew on a Malaysia Airlines flight from Melbourne to Kuala Lumpur tackled a fellow passenger who attempted to enter the cockpit shouting he had a bomb, authorities and witnesses said on Thursday.

The 25-year-old man, a Sri Lankan national, was tied up with seatbelts and the flight diverted back to Melbourne following the incident shortly after takeoff late on Wednesday.

Australian police said they did not believe the incident was linked to terrorism, instead citing mental health issues. A device carried by the man as he shouted threats was not dangerous, they said. It appeared to be a bluetooth speaker device.

Arif Chaudhery, a passenger on board MH128, told Reuters that about 30 minutes into the flight a male passenger attacked a female member of the cabin crew who screamed for help.

“Some passengers and crew grabbed the man and tackled him to the floor,” Chaudhery said, adding that seat belts were used to tie the man’s hands.

“We were very lucky. It could have been worse.”

Armed police boarded the plane when it landed back in Melbourne, taking the man, who bought a plane ticket hours after being released from psychiatric care, into custody.

The man is due to appear in court on Thursday on charges relating to making threats, false statements, and endangering the safety of an aircraft.

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