Etihad flight diverted after 'arsonist' lights three fires mid-air



Passengers on an Etihad flight from Melbourne to Abu Dhabi were left terrified after fire was seen in the toilet and smoke alarms went off three times mid-air.

The flight, which left Australia at 11pm on Tuesday, was diverted to Jakarta as a "precautionary measure" said the airline.

In Jakarta, cabin crew and authorities carried out a security assessment of the plane and deemed it safe.

But, two hours before the plane was due to arrive in Abu Dhabi, another smoke alarm went off.

As a result, the breakfast cabin service was cancelled so that "crews could continue to monitor and secure toilet access for the remainder of the flight".

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, passenger Sarah Jeffrey said she awoke to the sounds of a loud alarm, a flashing red light and rushing cabin crew members.

She added: ''I looked and saw flames coming from the bin in the toilet, and two cabin crew members put it out.

"It was very smoky, and it felt like the aircraft had filled with smoke.

"Breakfast was not served, which also meant we had only had one drink and a muffin in over 12 hours.

"I was very frightened that we had two more hours before reaching Abu Dhabi, and I actually sent messages to my boyfriend and son telling them how much I loved them, in the hope that if anything happened they would receive them."

Some passengers praised the professionalism of the cabin crew, including singer Graham Foote. He told CNN: "Upon arrival in Jakarta, we were told that a passenger had attempted to light two fires on the aircraft.

"Approximately two hours (away) from Abu Dhabi, we were informed that the arsonist had made another attempt and that all service was to be suspended."

Speaking about the cabin crew, he added: I thought they were extraordinary. Very calm and professional."

But others were not so happy. One told Perth Now: "The plane should never have been allowed to leave Jakarta with the culprit/terrorist whoever he was allowed back on the plane.

"The Indonesian authorities did not act in the interests of passenger safety and Etihad's decision to fly onto Abu Dhabi needs to be questioned. Lives were placed at risk, particularly when a third fire started about four hours into the flight from Jakarta."

It is believed a number of individuals were taken in for questioning and the incident is under investigation.

15 flights from hell

15 flights from hell

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