A passenger opened the door of an Asiana Airlines flight just before the plane landed because he said he was feeling “uncomfortable”.
The man, in his 30s, opened the plane door when it was still about 700ft above ground, causing panic onboard.
The plane that had 194 passengers onboard was minutes away from landing in the southeastern city of Daegu from the southern island of Jeju. The flight is normally about an hour long and it was not immediately disclosed how long the door was open.
Videos of the traumatic incident showed horrified passengers leaning back on to their seats and clutching on to them hard as wind at high speeds lashed through the plane’s interior.
The man who opened the door told police officials he “wanted to get off the plane quickly”, reported South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency, citing sources at Daegu Fongbu police station. The man was also reportedly stressed about losing his job recently.
Some passengers onboard tried to stop the man from opening the door, but the door partially opened despite their efforts, the country’s transport ministry said.
At least nine passengers had to be sent to the hospital with breathing issues. All of them were discharged after about two hours, a fire department official said.
Police plan to arrest the detained man once investigations conclude, Yonhap reported.
An image of the man who allegedly opened the plane door being detained by police was shared by the South Korean news agency.
Other images of the incident showed the emergency door completely open after the Asiana airlines flight had landed.
Jin Seong-hyun, a former Korean Air cabin safety official, said that as far has he knew, this case was unprecedented, but pointed out that passengers have opened emergency exits without authorisation while the plane is on the ground.
A South Korean transport ministry official said on Friday that it was possible to open emergency exits at or near ground level because the pressures inside and outside airplane cabins were similar.
Additional reporting by agencies