Plane Passenger Opens Emergency Door Midway Through Flight to South Korea

“He was tinkering with the handle,” said Asiana Airlines official Han Jae Min

<p>FG/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images</p>

FG/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

Passengers onboard an Asiana Airlines flight to South Korea are recovering from the ultimate flight fright after an unnamed man suddenly opened the emergency exit door midway through their journey.

Videos posted on Twitter show passengers seated near the open airplane door being blown back by the onrushing air while buckled into their seats. Their clothes and hair can also be seen wildly blown around as they clutch onto their seat armrests.

Asiana Airlines officials told NBC News the incident happened shortly before the plane landed on its hour-long flight from Daegu to Jeju island on Friday. At the time the Airbus aircraft had been flying at about 700 feet, added NBC.

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The airline also told the outlet that there were 200 people onboard, including staff, and that other passengers had tried to prevent the man from opening the door.

“The male passenger who sat next to the emergency exit door that opened said that he was tinkering with the handle and that he opened the door,” Asiana Airlines official Han Jae Min told NBC News. “He is currently being questioned by the police and we understand that he told the police that he opened the door.”

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The Korean Transport Ministry told ABC News in a statement that the man was detained after landing for violating the aviation security law, which prohibits people onboard an aircraft from opening an emergency exit. This carries the potential penalty of up to 10 years in prison.

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It added that 12 passengers were treated at the hospital for symptoms including hyperventilation while others reported suffering ear pain immediately after the emergency door was opened, reported ABC News.

Passengers on the flight included teenage athletes who planned to attend track and field competitions in Ulsan, another city in South Korea, according to multiple outlets.

Asiana Airlines and the Transport Ministry did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

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