As soon as an Asiana Airlines plane landed safely in the South Korean city of Daegu on Friday, a passenger was arrested despite prying open the emergency cabin door minutes before an Airbus A321 plane landed.
Several people on board the plane tried to stop him, but managed to partially open the door, South Korea’s Ministry of Transport said.
The man was detained by the airport police on suspicion of violating the Aviation Security Law, the ministry said in a statement. The man’s identity and motives were not immediately released, but local media said he was a large man, believed to be in his 30s.
The ministry said the law bans passengers from handling exit doors or other on-board equipment and provides for up to 10 years in prison.
The plane, carrying 194 passengers and six crew members, was heading from Jeju Island in the south of South Korea to Daegu. The normal flight time is about an hour, but the accident occurred on the way to Daegu Airport at an altitude of about 700 feet.
A video, apparently taken by someone on board and posted on social media, shows some passengers having their hair messed up by the air blowing into the plane through the open door.
Among those shaken by the incident were 48 teenage athletes heading to the national under-15 track and field championships in Daegu on Saturday. Ten of the children were from the judo team.
An official with the Jeju Sports Council told CBS News’ Jeong Kwon that eight players and a coach were examined at the hospital but were discharged without serious injuries.
“Students were very surprised,” he said, adding that the Red Cross had offered to provide counseling to young people upset by the incident.
The club had yet to decide whether to participate in the weekend’s event, but officials said it was prompted by the young age of the children (the youngest being only nine or 10) and the incident on board the plane. He said it was unlikely given the trauma. .
Yonhap News reported, citing other passengers, that their ears hurt badly after the doors opened. Some flight attendants yelled at passengers for help to prevent the doors from opening.
A total of 12 people were taken to hospital for treatment and tests, according to the Ministry of Transport. Daegu emergency officials said the injured were mostly suffering from breathing difficulties and other mild symptoms.
Luckily, the incident happened very close to landing, so the crew had already instructed all passengers to fasten their seatbelts.