A man in South Korea who opened a plane door mid-air, causing panic onboard as wind rushed through the cabin, has been arrested.
All 194 passengers survived the Asiana Airlines flight which was travelling from the popular holiday island of Jeju, to Daegu, some 148 miles south of the capital, Seoul, but about a dozen were taken to hospital after fainting or having breathing difficulties.
The plane was about 250 metres above the ground when a door was thrown open. Videos circulating on social media showed people clinging to the armrests of their seats, their hair flying and clothes flapping in the wind.
Aviation expert Geoffrey Thomas of Airline Ratings told CNN that the landing speed of the plane would have been about 172mph, subjecting passengers to the same strong airstream.
He said it was “very bizarre” because “technically, it’s not possible to open those doors in flight”.
According to the Yonhap newswire, the police said the suspect was travelling alone and not drunk but did not reveal any further details about his possible motivation.
“It is difficult to have a normal conversation with him,” an official was quoted as saying. “We will investigate the motive of the crime and punish him.”
Witnesses reported that air stewards had been unable to stop the man as the plane was so close to touching down.
They said he tried to jump free of the aircraft when it landed around 12.45pm local time.
“Flight attendants shouted for help from male passengers and people all around clung to him and pulled him in,” one person told the newswire.
On board was a group of young elementary and high school students who were travelling to compete in a national sports event in the city of Ulsan this weekend.
“Children quivered and cried in panic,” said the mother of one student.
A 44-year-old passenger described a sound like a detonation before the flight landed.
“It was chaos with people close to the door appearing to faint one by one and flight attendants calling out for doctors on board while others were running down the aisle in panic,” the passenger said.
“I thought the plane was blowing up. I thought I was going to die like this,” he said.
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