Twelve arrested after passengers flee emergency landing on Spain runway – closing airport

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The Air Arabia Maroc flight from Casablanca to Istanbul made an emergency landing at Palma de Mallorca airport after reports of an ill passenger on Friday evening, Guardia Civil said. When the doors were opened at around 8.30pm, a group of 21 passengers ran from the plane, the regional government said on Saturday.

Regional government spokeswoman Aina Calvo told reporters the events were “unprecedented” in Spain.

The 12 arrested included the ill passenger, who was taken to hospital with a companion, and given the all-clear.

The companion then attempted to flee the hospital and was also arrested.

Another passenger had been arrested for aggressive behaviour on board the plane.

Ms Calvo said it was not uncommon for emergency landings to be requested at Palma’s airport.

However, she added: “What was not normal was that a group of passengers decided not to comply with international rules.”

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Police are attempting to establish why the passengers ran away and whether it was an orchestrated plan or an isolated incident, she said.

None of those arrested have tried to claim asylum in Spain.

Ms Calvo added: “These are people who have arrived, not by sea, but in an illegal way and therefore at the very least they will be returned to their country of origin.”

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Several Spanish media including El Pais and national broadcaster RTVE suggested the incident was an attempt to illegally enter Spain.

Nevertheless, this has not yet been confirmed.

Airport operator Aena was forced to close the airport for more than three hours and flights due to land there were diverted to other airports, including Barcelona, Ibiza and Menorca.

The Majorca Daily Bulletin reported that most of those who escaped and subsequently arrested were found by the Guardia Civil, including one “caught walking along the road to Manacor”.

In total, 60 national and international flights were either diverted or delayed as a result.

Speaking to the Bulletin yesterday, local resident Louisa Louby Foster siad: “We’ve been told that when a passenger who was ill was taken off the plane, about 24 Moroccans made a run for it and they’re now hiding under planes all over the airport and it’s difficult for the Police to find them because it’s dark.”

Ms Foster, who had been in a plane waiting for take-off, added: “We are stuck here on the runway because they won’t allow any planes to take off in case people are hiding under the wheels.”

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