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South Korean court issues arrest warrant for man who opened plane door mid-air

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A South Korean court has issued an arrest warrant for a passenger who opened an Asiana Airlines plane door minutes before it landed, it has been reported.

The man in his 30s was detained on landing on Friday after opening the door when the Airbus A321-200 was about 200 metres (700ft) above the ground in Daegu, South Korea, causing panic onboard.

The Daegu district court issued the warrant on charges of violating the Aviation Security Act, saying there was a risk he may try to flee before trial. The warrant allows police to keep him in custody for longer, according to Yonhap news agency. He was not charged at the hearing on Sunday.

Officials gave the man's surname as Lee but not his full name, as is the usual custom.

Lee said he opened the door because he wanted to get off the plane quickly. "I feel really sorry for the kids," he told reporters as he was escorted to the court for a hearing on Sunday, apparently referring to students who were onboard and taken to hospital with breathing issues. They were all discharged after about two hours, a fire department official said.

Asiana stopped sales of seats closest to the exit on the Airbus model starting on Sunday, Yonhap said. The airline could not be immediately reached for comment outside business hours.

A South Korean transport ministry official said on Friday that it was possible to open emergency exits at or near ground level because the pressure inside and outside the cabin was similar.

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