An Israeli journalist working for National Broadcasting Company (NBC News) has recalled how a normal flight from Nairobi to London turned into a harrowing experience after the plane was forced to make an emergency landing in Khartoum, Sudan, an area he considered to be enemy territory.
While narrating his experience to the Times of Israel, Hanani Rapoport said that he was part of a crew that included two journalists from NBC News who were in a week-long safari in Kenya.
The crew, who had previously covered civil war in Khartoum, also included two Israeli citizens who acted as informants and were fearful of landing in a region that they deemed to be hostile.
According to the journalist, the Israeli crew members considered landing in South Sudan as a death knell for them owing to geopolitical tensions.
He explained that at the time, they had boarded the plane and expected a 15-hour flight to London, but was startled when the pilot informed them of an emergency following a passenger-on-board who had a heart attack.
"My heart was racing and palms sweaty. I couldn’t help but recall the story of Paris to Tel-Aviv flight which was hijacked by Palestinian and European terrorists, forced to land in Uganda," he said.
Describing it as a dramatic situation, Rapoport reached out to the cabin crew and identified himself and the crew, explaining to them the situation incase Sudanese military officers sought to scrutinise the passengers as soon as they landed.
Fearing the worst, he hid his passport and retreated to his seat while covering himself with a blanket. "All I could do at this point was hope for the best," he noted.
When the plane landed in Khartoum, he noticed four medics who came rushing towards the plane's rear where the passenger was lying. He also noticed three military personnel who stood by the stairs as they kept glancing inside the plane to capture anything that arose suspicion.
After ten minutes of scrutinising the plane, the military officials left the plane as all passengers were informed to resume to their seats. However, the flight delayed before taking off, increasing the tension by the journalists who were unsure of their safety in the country.
Fortunately, the captain announced that they would leave for Larnaca, Cyprus before heading to London.
"We are expected to land in Larnaca in three hours and ten minutes," the captain announced.
At about 5:00 am the following day, they landed at Larnaca International Airport as his crew boarded a bus to take them to a resort for a refresher as they reminisced on their momentous journey.
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