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Reverend Timothy Kinahan
"The time on the ground is the most alarming"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 9 February, 2000, 03:06 GMT
The terror of hijack ordeal

Reverend Timothy Kinahan The Reverend Kinahan: "Hostages must stay calm"


Hostages on board the Afghan plane at Stansted airport are likely to be experiencing a mixture of terror and exhaustion, a survivor of a previous hijack has told the BBC.

Reverend Timothy Kinahan was a passenger on a Lufthansa jet which was hijacked by a lone gunman in Hanover, Germany.

The plane eventually flew to New York where the FBI stormed it and the gunman surrendered.



Things are going to be pretty horrible in there, pretty smelly, very unpleasant, people are going to be extremely tired and probably afraid to sleep
Reverend Timothy Kinahan
Reverend Kinahan's ordeal lasted 11 hours and he says he feels for those on the Afghan airliner.

"I have an inkling of how they must be feeling and the real tiredness they must be experiencing," he said.

Reverend Kinahan said the Stansted hostages were probably enduring "horrific" conditions despite the regular supplies of food and drink being brought to them.

"Things are going to be pretty horrible in there, pretty smelly, very unpleasant, people are going to be extremely tired and probably afraid to sleep," he said.

Asked how he and fellow passengers reacted when they realised their plane had been hijacked, he replied: "In absolutely stunned silence. I don't think anyone said anything for about half an hour. We just held hands and looked at each other.

'We just held hands'

"There was no panic, no screaming, no shouting. The kids were good. It was really just stunned disbelief."

He said the reassuring words of the captain and crew had been vital in maintaining the calm.

"They told us if we did what we were told we were guaranteed to be safe. We believed them and that was what happened."

He added that the sight of security forces surrounding the plane was both a comfort and a cause for concern.

"It is reassuring but if things go wrong you know you are in the firing line," he said.

"The time on the ground was most alarming because of fears of a shootout. We felt the gunman would be more likely to shoot on the ground rather than jeopardise his own life in the air.



You say 'Let's play it safe, it's my skin, it's my family's future involved here, I'm not going to do anything that may exacerbate the situation', so you stay calm and do as you're told
Reverend Timothy Kinahan
"We relaxed once we had taken off and we were on our way to New York. We were allowed to go to the toilet which we all did en masse.

"We arrived in New York and in some ways that was the most frightening of all when the FBI SWAT team stormed the plane after we'd all been told to relax.

"We were suddenly put in another hostage situation."

He said he believed the Stansted hostages needed to stay calm at all costs.

"You're afraid of getting killed," he said. "You say 'Let's play it safe, it's my skin, it's my family's future involved here, I'm not going to do anything that may exacerbate the situation', so you stay calm and do as you're told."

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See also:
07 Feb 00 |  UK
How to negotiate with hijackers
07 Feb 00 |  South Asia
The view from Kabul
30 Dec 99 |  South Asia
History of hijacking

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