Moment up to 24 Moroccan migrants escape from plane and sprint across runway at Majorca’s Palma airport ‘after traveller faked illness to force flight to land’
- Two dozen passengers escaped the Airbus A320 at the Palma airport on Friday
- They pushed past staff and fled down the plane steps after one faked an illness
- 12 of the 24 escapees have been caught by police, but half are still on the run
- Around 40 inbound and outbound flights have been delayed due to the incident
This is the astonishing moment two dozen passengers escaped from a plane and sprinted across a Majorcan runway on Friday after a traveller allegedly feigned a diabetic coma.
The men put their lives and those of others at grave risk by forcing their way off the Airbus A320 in an unprecedented incident police believe was likely a pre-planned coup to enter Spain illegally.
Footage of Friday night’s drama showed the passengers pushing past medical and airline staff at a plane exit door after a brief struggle before running down the aircraft steps and disappearing into the darkness at Majorca’s busy Palma airport.
A female passenger witnessing the extraordinary scene, described as a first in Spanish aviation history, could be overheard shouting: ‘They’re escaping, they’re escaping, the lads are staying in Spain’ as they fled the plane.
The drama unfolded shortly after the Air Arabic Maroc-operated aircraft, which was heading from Casablanca to Istanbul in Turkey, made an unscheduled emergency landing in Majorca when a passenger ‘fell ill’ and went into an apparent diabetic coma.
The Moroccan man was rushed to hospital with a companion who promptly escaped the medical centre as the ‘sick’ man was given a clean bill of health following a check-up.
The man accused of feigning a diabetic coma told medics he was fine when he got to the island’s Son Llatzer hospital (pictured: authorities inspect the Air Marroc Airbus A320)
Dozens of men were pictured sprinting from the Air Arabic Maroc Airbus on the runway at Majorca’s Palma airport on Friday night
As the actor was being assessed by medical staff along with his companion, 22 other passengers took advantage of the confusion to make their daring escape through the open plane doors, forcing a shutdown of operations at the airport which lasted nearly four hours and caused chaos.
Twelve of the 24 passengers who left the plane at Palma Airport remained unaccounted for last night after a central government spokeswoman confirmed several men, all believed to be Moroccans, had been intercepted in different parts of the island.
Most were held in the municipality of Marratxi, a half-hour drive north-east of Palma, including four detained following a tip-off from a local who had seen them acting ‘suspiciously’ in the street and linked them to the plane escape.
The majority of the men still missing are thought to be Moroccan, though one has been described as Palestinian.
Spanish officials said they could not rule out the possibility the incident was an ‘orchestrated’ coup to enter the country illegally in their first comments on Saturday regarding the incident.
But they said they had no evidence at this stage to point to the incident being planned beforehand and linked to a ‘deliberate’ attempt by another passenger to fake a medical complaint.
Footage of Friday night’s drama showed the passengers appearing to push past medical and airline staff at a plane exit door after a brief struggle
The man accused of feigning a diabetic coma told medics he was fine when he got to the island’s Son Llatzer hospital (pictured: members of the civil guard on the runway where the escape took place)
Central government spokeswoman for the Balearic Islands Aina Calvo on Saturday made a statement in response to the man’s successful attempt to feign illness to force the plane to divert.
‘The protocol in a medical emergency that the pilot of the plane requested was applied in this case.
‘It may be that this protocol is revised once the current investigation is concluded in the light of this unique event in our country.’
Revealing 12 of the 24 passengers who had abandoned the plane were still missing, Calvo said: ‘All options are still on the table but we don’t have any information that enables us to affirm at this stage that we are dealing with an orchestrated operation by people who have entered Spain irregularly and formed part of a pre-conceived plan.’
She also insisted none of the passengers who had been intercepted had requested political asylum.
Conversely, police sources said they believed at least part of the group that fled the plane had planned their mission beforehand, lending support to the theory the unnamed passenger that sparked the medical emergency had invented or exaggerated his desperate state of health to facilitate the coup.
Jorge Campos, an MP for hard right-wing party Vox in the Balearic Islands’ regional parliament, said of the footage: ‘This is the video that shows the landing of the Moroccan plane in Palma was organised.
‘The central government spokesman in the Balearics says it wasn’t. She should resign.
‘And all this when we’re at terrorist alert level four. We’re defenceless. It’s a disgrace.’
Spanish airports authority Aena confirmed business had been resumed as normal in a tweet just before midnight on Friday, some three and a half hours after it revealed all normal airport operations had been suspended following the shock runway invasion.
The National Police and the Civil Guard, Spain’s two national police forces, are involved in the hunt for the runaways (pictured) and are believed to be getting assistance from local town-hall employed police forces across the island
Around 40 incoming and outbound flights, including several international flights, were delayed as a result of the incident on the runway in Majorca (pictured: check-in desks at Palma airport on the evening on Friday 5th November)
It confirmed on Saturday morning 13 flights scheduled to land at Palma had been diverted – five to Barcelona, four to Ibiza, two to Menorca, one to Madrid Barajas and another to Valencia.
Around 40 incoming and outbound flights, including several international flights, are said to have been delayed.
The National Police and the Civil Guard, Spain’s two national police forces, are involved in the hunt for the runaways and are believed to be getting assistance from local town-hall employed police forces across the island.
Majorca is increasingly a key destination for people smugglers who help illegal migrants reach the island by boat from the likes of Algeria.
Friday night’s mass plane escape, prompted by the medical emergency which is now being looked at as part of the police probe, is being described as a ‘first of its kind’ by aviation experts in Spain.
Police quizzes of the first migrants intercepted by officers are seeking to ascertain whether at least some of them had been briefed before making their bid for freedom and were in on the apparent ‘diabetes ruse’ – as officers suspect at this stage – or took advantage of the medical drama to make a last-minute split-second decision to abandon the aircraft and invade the runway.
Around 40 incoming and outbound flights, including several international flights, are said to have been delayed
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