Fresh details of the hijacked Tu-154 jet incident

Today's issue of the Jeddah-based daily Asharq al-Aswat offers details of the March 15-17 drama as the hijacked Russian Tu-154 liner was stranded in the Medina airport. After landing, Thursday, the jet was taken to a distant strip 800 metres away from the terminal, and no one approached it for half an hour before negotiators arrived from Riyadh. The talks, which started at half past six in the afternoon, were a harassing job as the hijackers did not talk Arabic or English. Fuel cisterns and lorries with food and drinking water came at a quarter past seven. Several Islamic University students from CIS countries were brought to the airport at about eight, and a Chechen pilgrim an hour later to interpret the talks. Close on 3,000 Saudi soldiers were blocking the airport and the strip. Airport security, the military police and commandos were alerted. A first-aid station was arranged in the port after a medical team arrived. The airport did not stop work, and planes were coming and going all the time, according to RIA Novosti. After the hostages were rescued, six Russians and five Turks were taken to hospital with injuries and nervous breakdowns. Several got medicines to drop blood pressure. Several had fainting fits while on the stuffy plane.

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