A passenger on a South Korean jetliner was detained Friday after opening an emergency exit door while the plane was in the air.
The plane managed to land safely with the door open, The Associated Press reported.
The Asiana Airlines flight had taken off from the island of Jeju, south of mainland South Korea, and was bound for the city of Daegu. It was still 700 feet in the air when the door was opened.
The incident happened when the plane was only two to three minutes from landing, according to CNN.
Passengers said that crew members shouted for help to stop the man from opening the door, but he nevertheless succeeded.
Cellphone video footage from different angles shows daylight streaming through the open door as passengers’ hair and clothing are whipped around.
On Friday afternoon, as an Asiana Airlines flight was landing at Daegu, South Korea, the door of the aircraft burst open. As panicked passengers clutched their armrests, the interior of the aircraft was filled with a howling wind. As per reports, the plane was around 700 feet… pic.twitter.com/s6kVUaE26f
— The Assam Tribune (@assamtribuneoff) May 26, 2023
There were 194 passengers and six crew members on board. Twelve people were later treated at local hospitals for “minor symptoms,” including breathing problems, the AP reported.
CNN quoted Geoffrey Thomas, an aviation expert, as saying the incident was “very bizarre.”
“Technically, it’s not possible to open those doors in flight,” he said. “It seems implausible that the door could be opened in the first place and then against the airstream technically impossible, but somehow or another it has happened.”
The airline explained to the network how such an occurrence was possible.
“The airplane is automatically set to adjust the pressure of the cabin according to the altitude of the aircraft. When the aircraft is high up in the air, it is impossible to open the door but when the altitude is low and close to landing, the door can be opened,” Asiana Airlines said.
Police reported that the detained passenger admitted to opening the door, but would not say why he did so.
A statement from South Korea’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport said the culprit could face up to 10 years in prison if he is found to have violated an aviation safety law.
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