A woman on a Morocco-Trkiye flight forced the plane to land in Spain by pretending to go into labor
Twenty-eight passengers on board a plane from Casablanca bound to Istanbul fled after a staged emergency forced the craft to make an early landing in Barcelona. Local police have launched a manhunt to find the escapees, most of which are believed to be migrants.
The plane touched down at El Prat airport in Barcelona on Wednesday, Spanish officials said, adding that the emergency was caused by a pregnant woman who faked going into labor. She was later taken to a hospital, which determined she was not giving birth.
The group reportedly jumped out of the aircraft as soon as it landed and fled the airport. However, after a search by police, half of the passengers were found and detained, including the pregnant woman, though 14 remain missing.
The government said five people were put back on the plane, while eight would be deported to Morocco. Officials did not provide details about all of the migrants, but at least some are suspected to have attempted to enter the country illegally.
Carrying a total of 228 people, the flight was operated by Trkiye's Pegasus Airlines and was originally meant to fly from Casablanca to Istanbul. According to Flightradar.com, a tracking website, the plane eventually reached its destination after a several hour delay.
A similar incident involving another plane headed from Morocco to Trkiye occurred late last year, when a man on board began feigning symptoms of a diabetic attack and prompted an emergency landing on Spain's Balearic Islands. Closely mirroring Wednesday's escape, 24 people pushed past crew members and fled the plane, with cellphone footage showing men running across the airport tarmac. Police ultimately arrested half of them, most Moroccan citizens excluding one Palestinian man, but twelve others were never found.