The following is a partial transcript of a conversation today in English between the pilot of a hijacked Athens-to-Rome TWA flight and the Beirut Airport control tower:
Pilot: Beirut control, TWA 847, request landing instructions.
Tower: I am unable to give you landing instructions due to the closure of the airport, sir. Advise the hijackers that. I think they understand English.
Pilot: Well, yeah, they do. But they're insistent upon landing in Beirut.
Tower: You have not permission to land Beirut Airport. It's up to you and to the hijackers to go on.
Pilot: Beirut, the hijacker has pulled the pin on his hand grenade. He will land at Beirut. He is desperate.
Tower: My word is to the hijacker (continues in Arabic).
Pilot: (interrupting) He has pulled a hand grenade pin and is ready to blow up the aircraft if he has to. We must, I repeat, we must land at Beirut. We must land at Beirut. No alternative.
Tower: OK. It's up to you to go on. It's up to you to go on. I can't give you permission because my responsibility doesn't give me permission for you to land. The airport is closed. (garbled) Would you advise the hijacker to hold for 10 minutes? Can you hold for 10 minutes to find a solution for your problem?
Pilot: TWA 847, that is a negative. We understand, we understand, but we must land at Beirut. The hijacker is insistent. Thank you.
Tower: Understand that you are landing without permission. Thank you.
Pilot: Be advised we have no choice. We must land.
Tower: OK, sir. Land, land quietly. Land quietly. It's up to you sir. As you know, the airport is not in my hands.
The following is a partial transcript of a conversation between the pilot and the tower after the hijacked plane landed at the airport:
Pilot: Ground, TWA 847, they are threatening to kill the passengers, they are threatening to kill the passengers. We must need fuel, we must get fuel.
Tower: I am trying, I am trying to arrange to have fuel for you. Trying to arrange fuel for . . . .
Pilot: They are beating the passengers, they are beating the passenger. They are threatening to kill them now, they are threatening to kill them now. We want the fuel now. Immediately!
Tower: I am doing my best.
Pilot: Five minutes, five minutes at the most. With fuel. Now. Five minutes or he's going to kill passengers.
Hijacker: (shouts in Arabic)
Pilot: He says if he doesn't get fuel in three minutes he's going to kill an American that he has tied up in the cockpit.
Tower: I am doing my utmost, I am doing my best to (garbled), to have the fuel for you. I am doing my utmost, sir. I am helping, but what can I do sir? Would you please advise the hijackers to take it easy. I am planning, I am doing my best (garbled) to be ready for you.
The following is a partial transcript of a conversation among the control tower, the pilot, and one of the hijackers, after the plane landed for a second time in Beirut:
Hijacker: (to tower) I don't want to talk to you, I'll only talk to (the Shiite Moslem) Amal (militia). You are trying to gain time, you don't believe me. Well, take this (U.S.) marine, one of the marines who shelled national Beirut.
Pilot: He just killed a passenger. He just killed a passenger.
Hijacker: You see. You now believe. There will be another within five minutes.
Tower: Isn't it a shame killing an innocent passenger?
Hijacker: Did you forget the Beir el Abed massacre? (A reference to the March 8 car bombing in a suburb of Beirut that killed more than 80 Shiite Moslems.)