Hoax Message Triggers Hijack Alert

An Italian tourist on a flight from Sydney (search) to Vienna (search) caused a security alert when he sent a cell phone message to his wife claiming his plane had been hijacked by terrorists, the Australian government said Sunday.

Authorities quickly discovered the message was a hoax.

Antonio Casale, 35, sent the text message when the Lauda Air flight stopped in Kuala Lumpur to refuel, a newspaper in Sydney reported Sunday.

A Transport Ministry spokesman confirmed the report in the Sunday Telegraph.

Casale claimed terrorists were in control of the plane and were taking the passengers to an unknown destination.

His distressed wife contacted Italian police, who immediately contacted the Italian Embassy in Canberra, who in turn contacted Australian police.

The pilot was reportedly contacted while in flight by counterterrorism negotiators, who found him oblivious to any hijacking attempt.

The Sunday Telegraph reported Casale was taken aside by the plane's captain and detained by police when the plane landed in Austria.

He was later released without charge.