Spanish police were searching for 14 people who ran from a plane at Barcelona’s airport after it made an emergency landing Wednesday to obtain assistance for a pregnant woman who allegedly simulated that she was about to give birth, authorities said.
The office for Spain’s government in the Catalonia region said the incident occurred when a Pegasus Airlines flight from Casablanca, Morocco, to Istanbul with 228 passengers on board requested the emergency landing at Josep Tarradellas Barcelona-El Prat Airport.
As the woman was getting evacuated from the plane, 27 passengers exited the aircraft without authorization and “tried to flee,” officials said.
Police stopped 13 of them. The other 14 managed to elude the police at the airport and remained at large.
The woman who was thought to be in labor was detained on charges of public disorder after doctors at a hospital determined that, although pregnant, she was not about to give birth.
Of the 13 fleeing passengers grabbed by police, five agreed to get back on the plane and continue on to Istanbul. The other eight were getting processed for non-admission to Spain and expected to be put on another Pegasus flight out of the country, officials said.
The Spanish government’s office did not divulge the nationalities of the passengers.
Pegasus, a low-cost airline based in Turkey, offers 82 international flights covering 44 countries, according to its website.
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.
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 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 a 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.
AFP contributed to this report.