A man in his 30s was arrested for opening an airplane’s emergency door in mid-air on an Asiana flight in South Korea.
On Friday, Asiana Airlines Airbus A321 was en route to Daegu International Airport from the southern island of Jeju when a passenger sitting by the emergency exit cracked open the cabin door at an altitude of 700 feet, just minutes before the plane landed.
Strong gusts of wind immediately blasted terrified passengers. Although no one was seriously injured, 12 passengers reportedly suffered minor injuries from hyperventilation; nine of those passengers were taken to the hospital. Some of the 194 passengers on board also reported ear pain and breathing issues due to the swift decompression of the airplane.
“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,” a 44-year-old passenger told local media, according to BBC. “I thought the plane was blowing up. I thought I was going to die like this.”
Witnesses also told local media that flight attendants were not able to stop the man as the plane was about to land.
Some said that the passenger had also tried to jump out of the plane. He was arrested by police upon landing on charges of violating aviation security laws.
Although he confessed to opening the emergency door, his motive is currently unclear.
“It is difficult to have a normal conversation with him,” an official said, according to BBC. “We will investigate the motive of the crime and punish him.”
South Korea’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport is investigating the incident. The unidentified man may face up to 10 years in prison for contravening the Aviation Security Act.