'Heroic' passengers tackle threat on flight from Melbourne

This is what we know so far, based on eyewitness reports, police statements and aviation data on the "bomb threat" that forced Malaysia Airlines flight MH128's return to Melbourne Airport.

"He had been released from psychiatric care from the Monash Medical Centre (on Wednesday), and from there, we believe he has purchased a ticket on this plane", Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton told reporters.

Police carrying semi-automatic assault rifles and wearing body armour took the man off the plane.

Marks, who is in Australia on a student visa while studying to be a chef, appeared in the Melbourne Magistrates Court on Thursday charged with endangering the safety of an aircraft and making false threats.

"Everyone on board is safe", Aziz added.

And they did. A group of passengers chased him down the aisle to the back of the plane, using a spare seat belt and cables to hog-tie him.

In a live press conference in Victoria Police's official Facebook and Twitter accounts, he said the Sri Lankan man was carrying a plastic bag containing a music speaker, and had allegedly demanded to enter the cockpit, saying he had an explosive device with him.

Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down over the Ukraine in 2014 with the loss of all 283 passengers and 15 crew.

About 11.29pm: The plane turns around, heading back to Melbourne.

Passengers on board the flight took action to subdue Marks and held him down while waiting for police to board the plane.

He then brandished a device, which he claimed was a bomb, before approaching the cockpit and threatening to blow up the flight.

"They have not been well organised at all", Mr Leoncelli said.

She cited Marks' age and appearance as reasons for his vulnerability in prison, and said he suffered from a psychiatric illness.

The plane was turned around 10 minutes after leaving Melbourne for Kuala Lumpur.

A spokesperson for the airline said the incident was caused by a "disruptive passenger".

"But they weren't coming on the plane, and we didn't know why", another passenger said. According to Independent.ie, Victoria's State premier Daniel Andrews warned against governments responding to these kinds of incidences in a negative way.

The incident came just months after Canberra called off the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 after a vast underwater hunt off Australia's west coast failed to find the plane.

"I thought the plane was going to go down, I thought the bomb was going to go off, I really did think I was going to die".

While passengers said they were glad to be safe, they were frustrated that police left the suspect's device on the plane with them as they sat on the tarmac for more than an hour.

In a statement, Malaysia Airlines said following the incident, all passengers had safely disembarked the aircraft.

  • Julie Sanders