Man opens exit door of plane mid-flight in South Korea
A man opened the emergency exit door of an Asiana Airlines plane during a flight in South Korea Friday, sending 12 passengers to the hospital, authorities said.
The plane, an Airbus A321, was headed to Daegu, about 150 miles south of Seoul, with 194 people on board, the Yonhap News Agency reported.
Airport officials said the incident occurred just before 1 p.m. local time, about one hour after the plane departed from the southern island of Jeju. The plane was preparing to land at the Daegu airport, at an altitude of 700 feet.
Among the passengers, there were 48 young student athletes who were traveling to participate in a track and field competition in the city of Ulsan over the weekend.
Some young passengers “cried in panic,” Yonhap reported, citing the mother of one of the athletes.
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A video believed to be taken by a person on board shows the air rushing in and passengers’ hair being whipped by the wind blowing through the cabin.
“It was chaos with people close to the door appearing to faint one by one and flight attendants calling out for doctors on board through broadcasting while others were running down the aisle in panic,” a 44-year-old passenger told Yonhap. “I thought the plane was blowing up. I thought I was going to die like this.”
Nobody was seriously hurt, but 12 people were taken to a hospital, according to the Transportation Ministry. The passengers were not in serious condition but reported having trouble breathing.
The plane landed safely with the door still open.
A 33-year-old man who was traveling alone and is suspected of opening the exit door was detained by police. His motives are still unclear, but authorities said he didn’t appear to be drunk.
Ministry officials say the penalty for handling exit doors can include prison sentences of up to 10 years.
With News Wire Services