“It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, World!”

By Kollengode S Venkataraman

On November 6, Air Arabia Maroc’s flight 3O437 from Casablanca, Morocco (departure 5:00 PM local time), was headed to Istanbul, Turkey, a 4½ hour flight. Over one hour into the flight, the plane declared a medical emergency and was diverted to land on the island of Palma belonging to Spain because a passenger was asking for medical assistance.

On landing at Palma de Mallorca, the Spanish police said the patient appeared to be in a diabetic coma and was rushed to the local hospital with his companion. The Moroccan air traveler, it appears, feigned the medical emergency to divert the flight, ostensibly to enter Europe, because, at the hospital, doctors found the man to be in normal health. Besides, the police said, the person accompanying the patient fled as soon as they arrived at the hospital.

Meanwhile, as the plane was parked on the tarmac, after some time, twenty-one passengers jumped out of the plane trying to flee the airport. Twelve of them, who spoke French, were arrested, and the others escaped. The supposedly “sick” man was later arrested for “helping with illegal immigration and violating Spanish immigration laws.” All except one among the 20-plus people in this episode were Moroccans.

Police suspect this was a novel and “unprecedented” way for people wanting to enter Europe illegally. They are investigating whether “the whole episode was an orchestrated event or an isolated freak incident.” The investigation is continuing.

A Spanish law enforcement official said, “Those who fled will be prosecuted for non-compliance with aviation safety rules and illegal entry into Spanish territory, and will be deported to their country of origin.” None of them applied for political asylum. Details here: www.tinyurl.com/Ppl-Flee-MedEmrgncy. ∎ — END


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