Video Shows Inside of Aircraft After Passenger Opened Emergency Exit Door

Newsweek 27.05.2023 08:02:14 Chloe Mayer
Police are investigating after a passenger allegedly opened a plane door mid-flight. Pictured: An aircraft flying overhead, photographed on November 29, 2010, in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Terrified travelers clung on for dear life after a passenger forced open a plane door mid-air-buffeting the cabin with fierce winds.

Twelve passengers needed hospital treatment for breathing difficulties after the aircraft managed to land safely in the South Korean city of Daegu on Friday. A 33-year-old man was arrested after witnesses said he had yanked on the emergency exit lever and tried to jump out while the plane was descending, Yonhap News Agency reported. The door was fully opened while the aircraft was still 820 feet above the ground. Video filmed from inside the plane showed the force of the air whipping back passengers' hair while their clothes billowed around their heads during the terrifying incident on an Asiana Airlines flight.

The incident comes amid a spate of widely reported near-misses between planes, deadly crashes, severe turbulence, and violent passengers. But in fact, experts insist that American air travel remains safe and is actually statistically safer than traveling by car.

"I think people are missing the greater point by jumping on these scattered incidents," author and pilot Patrick Smith told the Boston Globe in March. "Statistically, commercial air travel's never been safer. Major accidents today are few and far between, whereas in the old days, we'd see one or more every year. That's lost on people."

Video filmed from various angles inside the South Korean plane on Friday showed passengers nearest the door grabbing on to their seats and reeling back away from the void as they are pummeled by wind. The clips were shared on Twitter by Breaking Aviation News.

One witness described how the man had opened the door and tried to jump out.

"Flight attendants shouted for help from male passengers and people all around clung to him and pulled him in," the unidentified passenger said.

Another witness said: "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. I thought the plane was blowing up. I thought I was going to die."

Among the passengers were 48 elementary and middle school athletes, who were traveling to a national sports event due to take place on Saturday in the city of Ulsan.

"Children quivered and cried in panic," the mother of one of child said. "Those sitting near the exit must have been shocked the most."

There were 194 people on board the plane, which had taken off from Jeju Island, when the door was opened at 12:45 p.m. None of the passengers - who are thought to have all been strapped into their seat belts since the plane was about to land - were sucked out of the aircraft or injured. However, a dozen were suffering from breathing difficulties when the plane landed.

Police said the suspect, who was traveling alone, was not drunk at the time of detention, but they remained unsure why he had allegedly opened the door.

"It is difficult to have a normal conversation with him," an official told Yonhap. "We will investigate the motive of the crime and punish him."

Newsweek has reached out to Asiana Airlines by email for further information and comment.

Friday's incident was not the first time a door has opened mid-flight.

In January, a rear door flew open on a passenger plane in Russian skies, sending luggage and travellers' hats into the void as the cabin depressurized on the An-26 aircraft. The pilot was forced to make an emergency landing but all 25 people on board were safe, although suffering from cold as the plane was in eastern Siberia at the time in temperatures of -41 C.

There have also been several near-misses after passengers have attempted to open plane doors during their journeys.

A woman who tried to open an emergency exit door on a Delta plane flying into Detroit was restrained by other passengers and arrested after the aircraft landed in March 2019.

Later that year, a man in the midst of a panic attack attempted to force open the door of a plane mid-flight until he was stopped by fellow passengers-including the brother of British heavyweight boxer Dillian Whyte. The incident took place on board a British Airways flight traveling from London to Riyadh in Saudi Arabia.

And one impatient traveler was arrested in Miami after he opened the plane's door and jumped on to the wing shortly after it landed.

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