South Korean authorities arrested a man on Friday after he opened the door of an Asiana Airlines plane minutes before it was due to land in the city of Daegu, causing panic among passengers, officials said.
The Airbus A321-200 plane landed safely around 12:45 pm local time. It had departed from the holiday island of Jeju an hour ago, the airport’s flight schedule showed.
No one was injured in the incident, but nine people, all teenagers, were sent to the hospital with breathing difficulties, said the head of the Daegu Fire Department.
“I thought the plane was going to explode…. It looked like the passengers near the open door were fainting,” an unidentified 44-year-old passenger told South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency.
The passenger said the cabin crew made an announcement on the plane to ask if there were any doctors on board.
Asiana Airlines Flight OZ8124 had 194 passengers, including 38 elementary and middle school students, Yonhap News Agency report.
A video broadcast on television, said to have been shot by a passenger, showed moments before it went down, with the door open and the wind blowing as passengers sat nearby.
The Ministry of Transport said in a statement that the police have detained the person who opened the door and that the authorities are investigating violations of aviation regulations.
The ministry did not say why they opened the door.
A Transport Ministry official told Reuters officials were looking into whether Asiana Airlines followed emergency exit procedures.
The official said that it is possible for an emergency exit to be removed near the ground when the pressure inside and outside the cabin is the same.
The plane had two to three minutes to land when a man sitting next to the emergency exit opened the cover and pulled the latch to open the door about 200 meters from the ground, Asiana said.
Everyone on board was wearing seat belts because the plane was about to land, the spokesman said.