'I thought I was going to die': Terrified plane passengers grip seats after man yanks open emergency door mid-flight

26 May 2023, 12:33

A man opened an emergency door on a plane mid-flight
A man opened an emergency door on a plane mid-flight. Picture: Alamy/Social media

By Will Taylor

Footage shows passengers gripping their seats after a plane door opened mid-air when someone grabbed its emergency exit lever.

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Wind batters them as the aircraft descends to Deagu in South Korea, where the pilot landed it safely.

Video from onboard shows the chaos as passengers' hair and clothes is buffeted in the wind while the plane comes in to land.

Distressed travellers called for help as the Asiana Airlines came in to land with the door wide open, and 12 on board had to be taken to hospital with breathing difficulties.

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The man was detained on board
The man was detained on board. Picture: Alamy/Twitter

It is unclear why the man, in his 30s, opened the door as the plane was some 650ft in the air.

One passenger, 44, told South Korea's Yonhap news agency: "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.

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"I thought the plane was blowing up. I thought I was going to die like this."

The man who opened the door has been detained by police for questioning.

South Korea's transport ministry said some among his fellow passengers tried to stop him during Friday's incident.

The man opened the door mid-flight
The man opened the door mid-flight. Picture: Alamy

"Police are questioning him jointly with the land and transport ministry over aviation safety laws violations," it said.

"Under these laws, a person who opens a plane door without authorisation is subject to a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison."

There were 194 people on board, including 48 teenage athletes who were on their way to compete in Ulsan.

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The plane had taken off from from Jeju, off the south-west coast of Korea.

The mother of one of the young athletes said: "Children quivered and cried in panic. Those sitting near the exit must have been shocked the most."

It is thought to be the first time this kind of incident has happened in the history of Korean aviation.

Flights in the country are regarded as safe.

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