Passengers on an Asiana Airlines Airbus A321 have described the horrifying moment a man opened the plane’s door mid-flight Friday afternoon.
As the plane was about to land in Daegu, South Korea, a passenger opened the door and terrified passengers clung to the armrest as wind blew through the cabin.
Watch the video above: The horrific moment the cabin door of an Asiana Airlines flight in South Korea opens in mid-air.
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A passenger filmed the moment the door opened.
Passengers tried to prevent the 33-year-old man from opening the door, local media Yonhap News Agency reported.
The crew reportedly yelled for help to passengers to prevent the hatch from opening.
He sat in an emergency seat and opened the door when the plane was about 700 feet (213 m) above the ground and about two to three minutes before landing in the city, 150 miles (240 kilometers) south of Seoul, an airline official said. .
Company officials told CNN the plane landed safely.
Witnesses told Yonhap News Agency that the man opened the door and tried to jump out.
A witness said: “The flight attendant yelled for help to the male passenger, and people around him grabbed him and pulled him up.”
Among the passengers were 48 elementary and middle school student athletes who were scheduled to attend a national sporting event in the nearby city of Ulsan on Saturday.
“The children were panicking, shaking and crying,” said the mother of one of the athletes. “The people who were sitting near the exit were definitely the most shocked.”
A 44-year-old passenger said: “The scene was chaotic. People near the door seemed to faint one by one. The flight attendant called the doctor on the plane through the radio, while others ran down the aisle in panic.”
“I thought the plane was going to explode. I thought I was going to die like this,” he said.
According to Asiana Airlines, there were 200 people on board, including 194 passengers.
Of the passengers, 12 suffered minor injuries from hyperventilation, and nine of them have been taken to Daegu Hospital, a spokesman for the Daegu Fire Department said.
Some people reported ear pain from the event.
The 33-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the incident, local police said. He reportedly admitted to opening the door, but did not say why he did so.
Police said he was not intoxicated when he was taken into custody, but were tight-lipped about why he did so.
“It’s difficult to have a normal conversation with him,” an official told Yonhap. “We will investigate the motive of the crime and punish him.”
Police said he was traveling alone.
South Korea’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism confirmed that they are investigating an individual who violated aviation laws.
Anyone who violates the Aviation Security Act, including passengers operating doors, exits or equipment inside an aircraft, could be prosecuted and sentenced to up to 10 years in prison, the statement said.
The Ministry of Defense also stated that it has sent aviation safety inspectors to the scene to check whether there are abnormalities in aircraft maintenance.
The Flightradar 24 tracking website identified the plane as an Airbus 321.
The plane was on a flight from Jeju Island off South Korea’s southern coast to Daegu.
Aviation expert Geoffrey Thomas of Airline Ratings described the incident as “very strange”.
“It’s technically impossible to open those doors in flight,” he told CNN.
Thomas said the A321’s landing speed was about 150 knots (172 mph), meaning winds at that speed were blowing past the plane.
Doors behind the plane’s wings lead to the airflow, he said.
“It seems unbelievable that the door would open at first and then go against the flow, which is technically impossible, but somehow it happened,” Thomas said.
“The aircraft automatically adjusts the cabin pressure according to the altitude of the aircraft,” an Asiana Airlines spokesman said.
“When the plane is at high altitude, the doors cannot be opened.
“But when the altitude is lower and closer to landing, the door can be opened.”