FILE PHOTO - Malaysia Airlines planes sit on the tarmac at Kuala Lumpur International Airport July 21, 2014.
FILE PHOTO - Malaysia Airlines planes sit on the tarmac at Kuala Lumpur International Airport July 21, 2014. Reuters/Edgar Su/File Photo

The passengers of Malaysia Airlines flight MH128 have criticised the Victoria Police for letting them wait 90 minutes on the plane with a man who threatened to blow it up. The plane, which was headed to Kuala Lumpur, made an emergency landing back to Tullamarine Airport after brave passengers tackled the man on Wednesday night.

The plane had just lifted off the ground when Scott Lodge, one of the brave passengers who pounced on the man, said he noticed him fiercely rummaging around in the overhead compartment and ignoring repeated instructions to sit down. The man eventually pulled something down into his lap and got a device out. He made a beeline to the cabin and started trying to get in.

“…That’s when I think he panicked, and he came all the way back down to the back of the plane,” Lodge told the Herald Sun. “I had my seatbelt undone, and one leg in the aisle ready to go, knowing this guy is just not good news at all.”

The man then grabbed a flight attendant’s arm, but he didn’t get a chance to do anything else because Lodge and three other passengers pounced on him. The passengers got him in a chokehold and his arm around his back. They had him tied up as they were afraid that he had some kind of detonator with him.

The man apparently shouted about bombing the plane, while the cabin crew tried to find where the said bomb was. The pilot turned the plane around and made an emergency landing back to Tullamane Airport.

The SWAT team eventually arrived to take the man away, but according to passengers, the police took their time in getting there. The passengers had to wait almost an hour before the officers entered the plane.

“If there was a bomb on that plane, we should have been evacuated from it. Instead we sat there for another hour and a half. There was no communication. They literally left us waiting and wondering,” passenger Stan Young said to reporters on Thursday.

The plane landed at 11:47 p.m. and the Special Operation Group officers arrived on the plane at 1:21 a.m., according to the timeline released by the Victoria Police. Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton defended why it took a while for them to board the plane.

“It’s not a case of just bursting into the plane in those scenarios,” he said. The police, he explained, acted on reports that there could be more than one offender on board.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews thought the police acted prudently, saying they could have made the situation worse if they had rushed in. However, Opposition leader Matthew Guy wanted a probe into the police response.

Bomb threat suspect

The alleged offender was identified as Manodh Marks, a 25-year-old Sri Lankan man living in Dandenong on a student visa. According to the Australian Associated Press, he was mentioned in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on Thursday but did not appear personally. He was charged with endangering the safety of an aircraft and making false threats. He was remanded to appear on Aug. 24.