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Wind buffets plane passengers as door opened on flight in South Korea

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Police in South Korea have arrested a man who allegedly opened the door on an Asiana Airlines flight shortly before the aircraft landed, triggering panic among the 194 passengers onboard and leaving several requiring hospital treatment for breathing problems.

The Airbus A321 plane landed safely, but with its door still open, at Daegu airport in South Korea at about 12.40pm (0340 BST) after leaving Jeju island an hour earlier, the airport's flight schedule showed.

No one was injured but nine people were taken to hospital after suffering from suspected hyperventilation, a Daegu fire department official said. They included eight schoolchildren from Jeju, according to the island's education office.

The plane was a few minutes from landing when a male passenger sitting next to an emergency door opened a cover and pulled a lever so the door opened about 200 metres (656ft) above ground, an Asiana spokesperson said.

A video clip taken by a passenger captured the moment the wind ripped through rows of passengers - who had already fastened their seatbelts to prepare for landing - with the gap in the side of the fuselage clearly visible. The footage showed passengers' hair flapping wildly as some shouted out in fear.

In another clip, two male passengers sitting in the emergency exit row next to the open door are seen wincing as the wind whips around them while they clutch the armrests and try to turn away from the door.

The passengers included 48 primary and middle school children who were on their way to a weekend sporting event. The mother of one of the pupils told the Yonhap news agency: "The children were shaking, crying and frightened. Those sitting near the exit must have been shocked the most."

Authorities were questioning a 33-year-old passenger who had been seated near an emergency exit row, Asiana officials said. One official said: "Police are investigating the incident after a passenger who was sitting near the emergency exit said he touched its lever."

Yonhap said flight attendants were unable to prevent the suspect from opening the door because they were already seated for landing. The man, who was travelling alone, did not appear to have been intoxicated and had so far refused to answer investigators' questions, it added.

"It is difficult to have a normal conversation with him," Yonhap quoted an official as saying. "We will investigate the motive of the crime and punish him."

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