Furious Ryanair passengers hold protest in grounded plane

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More than 100 angry passengers refused to leave a Ryanair flight Wednesday after it was diverted to Belgium, demanding that they be taken home, police and firefighters said.

The passengers, mostly French tourists who were supposed to land near Paris after returning from holidays in Morocco, sat in a dark cabin in protest hours after even the pilot and crew had left the plane at the Liege airport in southern Belgium.

"The passengers in retaliation to the company (Ryanair) refuse to come out," an airport police official told AFP by telephone. They were offered one of the airport's transit rooms to wait in, but refused, he added.

A firefighter said the airport was trying to organise buses to take the passengers back to France.

"I have proposed that they come off the plane because they are in the dark here," the firefighter said.

Passengers on the plane told AFP that the flight had left Fes, Morocco, three hours late at 7:15 pm local time on Tuesday but had been unable to land in Beauvais, France, because the airport there had closed.

The plane landed in Liege at around 11:30 pm and passengers were still inside it at 3:30 am the next morning.

"This is unacceptable," Mylene Netange, who runs a network on social responsibility for business leaders, told AFP.

"The pilot and crew are no longer here. They left us here," she said.

Reda Yahiyaoui, a business owner who was travelling with his wife, a two-month-old baby and a three-year-old, said the passengers had no water and the toilets in the plane were locked.

"The pilot left and he even left the cockpit door open," he said.

A Ryanair spokesperson was not immediately reachable for comment.

© 2010 AFP

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