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All flights in the direction of Palma airport are being diverted to Menorca, Ibiza and the Spanish mainland while passengers inside the building were asked to wait. Around 8.30pm (local time) on Friday night, it was reported that a Royal Air Maroc flight had to make an emergency landing in Palma, en-route from Morocco to Turkey, after a passenger needed urgent medical attention for their diabetes.
Once on the tarmac, the passenger received the attention of emergency medical services but others, from the same flight, seized the opportunity to escape from the plane.
“We’ve been told that when a passenger who was ill was taken off the plane, about 24 Moroccans made a run for it and they’re now hiding under planes all over the airport and it’s difficult for the Police to find them because it’s dark”, a local resident, Louisa Louby Foster, told the Majorca Daily Bulletin.
Louisa was sitting waiting on another flight ready for takeoff when the incident occurred, “We are stuck here on the runway because they won’t allow any planes to take off in case people are hiding under the wheels”, she added.
Most of the passengers have remained inside the aircraft and the aim of those who escaped is still unknown.
Authorities are now searching for those who fled their flight to Turkey and one person has reportedly been arrested.
The whole airport shut down because it would be too dangerous to have planes landing and taking off while some people are hiding in the dark in the same zone.
The airport has stopped all operations “for security reasons” according to their statement.
Delays and diversions to alternative destinations are foreseen for the 40 flights that had been scheduled for tonight.
Air traffic controllers said on a Twitter feed: “Queues at Palma and possible diversions.
“Planes bound for the airport have been stopped for security reasons.
“It seems a plane has landed and there could be passengers from the flight on the runway.”
Spanish airports authority Aena confirmed: “Palma de Majorca airport has suspended temporarily its operations following an incident after a plane landed.”
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Spanish newspaper website Ultima Hora reports that in an audio note shared widely on WhatsApp, a commander can be heard telling the plane’s passengers that they are being held because “24 people have escaped.”
He said: “The planes that were coming to Palma cannot land.
“The colleagues at the waiting point with the engines running have had to turn them off to avoid any possible intake of a passenger.”
Controllers said on Twitter it is likely that operations will not resume until daylight.
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