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Japanese Airline Hijacker Captured

July 23, 1999

TOKYO (AP) _ A hijacker seized a Japanese airliner carrying 517 people Friday and fatally stabbed the pilot, officials said. The knife-wielding man was overpowered and the plane returned to Tokyo an hour after takeoff.

It was not clear when the pilot died or if the co-pilot landed the plane.

The pilot of the All Nippon Airways jumbo jet died from loss of blood, said ministry official Fumihiko Oinuma. His death was the first ever for a passenger or crew member in the 20 hijackings in Japan’s history, Oinuma said.

The pilot’s identity was not immediately released, but NHK-TV identified him as Naoyuki Nagashima, 51. NHK said Nagashima had subdued the hijacker, although details were not immediately available.

The hijacker entered the cockpit and threatened the crew with a kitchen knife, said Transport Ministry official Hitoshi Ishiyama. He was arrested about an hour after the plane landed, NHK reported.

Passengers, none of whom immediately appeared to be injured, were taken to a nearby hotel. They said the crew had handled the hijacking calmly.

One passenger said the hijacker looked young and wore a white T-shirt.

``I was shocked when I learned that the pilot was killed,″ said Miharu Hondo, another passenger and a housewife traveling for a holiday.

``When we saw a doctor coming into the plane, I thought maybe someone was hurt during the hijacking. But I didn’t imagine that anyone had died.″

The pilot of Flight 61, carrying 503 passengers and 14 crew members, reported the hijacking shortly after takeoff from Haneda airport in Tokyo, said Transport Ministry official Hitoshi Ishiyama.

The plane, bound for the northern island of Hokkaido, returned to Haneda and landed at about noon, officials said.

Shortly after the hijacking was reported, the plane was temporarily headed to Yokota Base, a U.S. military base near Tokyo, NHK said.

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