Search for 12 missing passengers who fled a plane after a man suspected of faking a diabetic coma forced an emergency landing, police say



Air Arabia Maroc flight

Spanish police are seeking passengers who fled an Air Arabia Maroc flight after an emergency landing. Wikimedia Commons

  • A man has been arrested on suspicion of encouraging illegal immigration by faking an illness on a flight.

  • While being treated for the apparent medical emergency, 24 passengers fled the plane and escaped into Mallorca.

  • Spanish police say that 12 people have been detained, and another dozen are missing.

Spanish police are looking for 12 passengers who fled a flight from Morocco to Turkey after their plane made an emergency landing on the island of Mallorca, according to reports.

The Air Arabia Maroc flight, which departed on Friday evening, diverted to Palma de Mallorca after a passenger asked for medical attention, according to Spanish air traffic authorities, per The New York Times.

The passenger, a man who apparently suffered a diabetic coma on the flight, was taken to hospital. He was quickly discharged after doctors found him to be in good health, France 24 reported.

The man was detained on suspicion of faking his illness to “encourage illegal immigration and violate Spanish immigration law,” police said.

A companion who traveled with him to the hospital fled.

Another 21 passengers escaped the plane and ran onto the runway, said Aina Calvo, the Spanish government’s representative in the Balearic Islands, during a news conference.

She told reporters that 12 people have been detained, and another dozen are still on the run.

Video footage, shared by Ultima Hora on YouTube, shows the exodus of passengers from the plane.

An investigation is underway to determine whether what happened at the airport was an “orchestrated, planned event or an isolated incident,” Calvo said. “At this stage we do not have any information that allows us to confirm that this was an orchestrated operation… or part of a pre-determined plan. But the investigation is still open.”

According to the Spanish government representative, the detained passengers face deportation to their countries of origin. All but one are believed to be from Morroco, with one suspected to be Palestinian, France 24 reported.

The airport was closed for more than three hours and at least 40 flights suffered delays or cancellations, per The Times.

Calvo said that an incident like this has “never before happened in any other part of our country,” she told reporters.

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