Plane passenger who opened exit door mid-flight told cops he felt ‘suffocated’

A man who swung open an aeroplane emergency exit door mid-flight says he did so after feeling ‘suffocated’.

The 33-year-old man told police he felt stressed after losing his job but now faces ten years in prison for opening the plane door when the aircraft was still 650ft above the ground.

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Terrifying footage shows passengers gripping on to their seats in the scary scene as the plane descended towards the South Korean city of Daegu on Friday.

When the door of the Asiana Airlines plane opened suddenly air billowed through the cabin – and witnesses said children were petrified, shaking and crying with fear.

The Transport Ministry said that the man who boarded the plane alone and not under the influence of alcohol, is still being questioned.

The maximum punishment for this type of incident is 10 years in jail.

A representative from the ministry said: “Police are questioning him jointly with the land and transport ministry over aviation safety laws violations.

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

It was about seven minutes before landing, that the man who is from Jeju and was sitting near the emergency exit row, lifted the lever and opened the door.

All 194 people onboard, including eight schoolchildren from Jeju, were seated and fastened with seatbelts during the incident which took place on the Airbus 321 plane.

However nine people on board the Asiana Airlines flight were taken to hospital after suffering breathing difficulties.

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The plane landed safely at around 12.40pm local time.

The video taken by a passenger from a few rows back show the gap on the left side of the plane and strong gusts of wind blowing at passengers.

Another video taken from the row in front of the emergency exit sees passengers holding onto the armrests while bracing the wind.

A spokesperson for Asiana Airlines said: "Police are investigating the incident after a passenger who was sitting near the emergency exit said he touched the lever."

South Korean Police arrested the man upon landing on charges of forcibly opening the emergency door of an airplane and violation of the Aviation Security Act.


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