Passenger starts fire on board Shenzhen Airlines flight

By Ella Wong, July 27, 2015

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A passenger on a Shenzhen Airlines flight from Taizhou, Zhejiang province, to Guangzhou has been arrested after he started two fires and slashed two fellow passengers during the flights' decent into Guangzhou's airport.

People’s Daily reports:

“As the flight prepared for taxiing, a scream of “Fire!” was heard all over the cabin. Witness on board recalled that it was a middle-aged man with a crossbody bag. He came from the back to the first-class cabin, poured gasoline on a newspaper, and lit it there.

The flight attendant quickly put it out with fire extinguisher.

The suspect then pulled out a knife of ‘two fingers’ width and 8-10 inches’ length, as recalled by a passenger. He walked back to the economic class cabin, brandished the knife, and threatened everyone to stay still.

Two male attendants cornered him with knives back into the first cabin. Several male passengers came to assistance, and two were cut by the man.

After several minutes’ deadlock, the suspect set the cabin on fire again. Black smoke pervaded the cabin.”

The pilot reportedly issued a mayday call and the plane was guided into Guangzhou's Baiyun Airport, where it was met by police. 95 passengers and nine crew members were evacuated via the emergency slides and the suspect was detained.

No motive has yet been given for the man’s actions, but the fact that he brought gasoline, a lighter and a knife through security suggests the arson attempt was premeditated, which would make it different from other recent incidents of passengers behaving badly, such as the three travelers who upgraded themselves to business class because of a delay, the four women who came to blows after two leaned their seats all the way back, the drunk man who attempted to open the emergency exit during the plane's descent or the sober man who actually did open the emergency exit to “get some fresh air.”

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