Mia Alberti and Lindsay Isaac, CNN
(CNN) — Spanish authorities have arrested 12 people who were part of a group of 21 passengers that fled a plane after it was forced to make an emergency landing at Palma airport on the Balearic island of Mallorca, Spain, state news agency EFE reports.
The incident took place on an AirArabia flight from Morocco to Turkey, which was re-routed to Palma on Friday, due to a medical emergency.
According to EFE, one of the detained passengers faked a diabetic coma to facilitate the escape of 20 other people. When the plane landed, the group fled the aircraft and ran through the tarmac, the Spanish government’s delegate in the Balearics, Aina Calvo, told reporters.
A video shared by Jorge Campos, leader of the far-right party VOX in the Balearic islands shows several passengers fleeing a AirArabia flight after the plane landed in Spain’s Palma de Mallorca airport on Friday over what authorities say was a “fake” health emergency.
“It’s usual that we receive these kind of requests for emergency landings, when a passenger is sick and the captain decides it’s important to land. What is not usual and is unheard of, is that we see 21 people running on the airport’s tarmac,” Calvo said.
The Palma de Mallorca airport was briefly closed and 13 flights were rerouted before operations resumed at 11 p.m. on Friday, AENA, the airport authority said on Twitter.
“Palma’s airport is operating normally, but the feeling is general: what happened cannot repeat itself and it’s necessary that the responsible authorities review their protocols to guarantee the safety of all,” the President of the Balearic Islands, Francina Armengol, said in a tweet.
Daniel Zamit, a spokesperson for USCA, the Spanish Air Traffic Controllers Union, called the incident a “grave breach of security” and said the protocols in place would be reviewed, in an interview with Spanish broadcaster TVE.
AENA and the Spanish authorities were not immediately available for comment.