MIAMI -- A Miami-bound Eastern Airlines jet carrying 232 people from New York was commandeered and ordered to Cuba early Tuesday in the second such skyjacking in 48 hours and the fourth this month. The lone hijacker was taken into custody in Havana.
None of the 221 passengers or 11 crew members aboard the L-1011 wide-bodied jetliner was reported injured and the plane departed Havana for Miami at 4:07 a.m. EDT after about three hours on the ground at Jose Marti Airport.
The method used in the hijacking was not immediately known, but there were unconfirmed reports the hijacker claimed to have a bomb.
Jack Barker, a Federal Aviation Administration spokesman in Atlanta, said the L-1011, Eastern's Flight 1, was 40 miles northeast of Miami when it was diverted to Havana at 12:09 a.m. EDT. The plane then landed safely in Havana at 1:07 a.m. and the unidentified hijacker was taken into custody.
The hijacking of Eastern Flight 1 was the eighth since May 1 and the second in as many days. It also was the fourth skyjacking this month, and the third time an Eastern Airlines jet has been commandeered to Cuba since May 19.
Barker said there were no sky marshals on Flight 1 or on any of the previous jets hijacked to Cuba.
The flurry of hijackings prompted a meeting last week between federal officials and security personnel at Miami International Airport. Four of the eight hijackings this year have originated in Miami.
Federal officials have expressed surprise that hijackers would risk the harsh prison sentences awaiting them in Cuba. The Cuban government has told the State Department that hijackers are now receiving sentences of up to 50 years in Fidel Castro's jails.