GENEVA (CBS) - An Ethiopian Airlines plane destined for Rome was forced to land early Monday in Geneva, where the hijacker was arrested, authorities said.
Police later said the hijacker was a co-pilot who surrendered and asked for asylum. They said the co-pilot locked the cockpit door and grabbed control of the plane when the pilot went to the bathroom.
According to Robert Deillon, Director of Geneva International Airport, the co-pilot left the plane by climbing out of a cockpit window and lowering himself down on a rope, where he was greeted by police.
The airline said one of its planes had been "forced to proceed to Geneva." Its website said the flight landed safely and "all passengers and crew are safe." It gave no further details.
The hijacking began over Italy, Switzerland's southern neighbor, and two Italian fighter jets were scrambled to accompany the plane, Deillon said.
Police escorted passengers one by one, their hands over their heads, from the taxied plane to waiting vehicles.
Swiss police said the plane made an unscheduled landing in the Swiss city at 6 a.m. local time (1 a.m. EST) and the hijacker was arrested. Police spokesman Jean-Philippe Brandt told The Associated Press "the situation is under control" and nobody on the flight was injured.
He said the plane was a Boeing 767-300, but had no immediate information on the number of people aboard.
The website Airnation.net says Flight 702 left from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia's capital, for the trip to Rome but was commandeered, apparently while flying over Sudan.
Cairo airport officials said the pilot of the plane informed the control tower at Abu Simbel in southern Egypt that his plane had been hijacked. The pilot did not ask to land in Egypt, and the plane headed for Libyan airspace, they said. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to brief the media.