Spanish police were searching for 14 passengers who fled after their plane made an emergency landing at Barcelona airport Wednesday following a medical incident that appeared to have been staged, officials said.
They were part of a group of 28 people who left a Pegasus Airlines flight from Casablanca to Istanbul after it made a pre-dawn emergency landing at Barcelona’s El Prat airport.
It was the second such incident in just over a year involving a flight from Morocco to Turkey during which a passenger feigned a medical condition in order to force an emergency landing in Spain with dozens fleeing the plane.
According to a source in the central government’s delegation in Catalonia, the incident began at 4:30 am (0330 GMT) when the plane requested an emergency landing because “a female passenger’s waters had supposedly broken.”
When it touched down, the plane was met by an ambulance and three police patrols but “as they were disembarking the pregnant woman, a group of 28 people left the plane and tried to flee”, the source said.
Police managed to detain 14 of them, including the pregnant woman, but five were returned to the plane at their own request after being accepted back by the airline staff.
“The woman was taken to Sant Joan de Deu hospital for a check-up which found no signs she was in labor so she was discharged and arrested for disturbing the public order by claiming she had gone into labor,” the source said.
Police are searching for the 14 who managed to flee, while the authorities were processing the other eight would-be migrants to ensure their return to Morocco.
On November 5, 2021, another plane from Casablanca to Istanbul was forced to make an emergency landing in Mallorca after one of the passengers appeared to be taken ill.
After the passenger was disembarked from the plane with a companion, another 21 people fled.
The passenger, who appeared to be going into a diabetic coma, was taken to hospital but found to be fine and arrested, while his companion fled.
In total, police arrested 12 people, including a passenger who created a disturbance on the plane, while another 12 managed to flee, prompting a manhunt.
All but one were thought to be Moroccans.