Last week, a passenger flight from Morocco to Turkey was forced to make an emergency landing in Barcelona, Spain, because a pregnant passenger had gone into labor. When the plane landed, 28 passengers rushed off the plane and attempted to flee across the airport tarmac, with half of them able to evade police. To make matters worse, the pregnant woman wasn’t actually about to give birth, according to Deutsche Welle.
On December 5, a Pegasus Airlines Airbus A321neo was carrying 228 passengers on a flight from Casablanca, Morocco to Istanbul, Turkey. At around 4:30 a.m., the plane’s pilots requested to make an emergency landing at Barcelona’s El Prat Airport because a passenger’s water broke. An ambulance and three police officers met the plane on the tarmac. The passengers fled as the woman was being helped off the plane.
The police were able to detain 14 passengers, including the pregnant woman. Five people were allowed back on the plane by Pegasus Airlines staff, and eight others were arrested to be deported back to Morocco. Authorities took the pregnant woman to a hospital, where it found that she wasn’t about to give birth. She was then arrested on public disorder charges and set to be deported to Morocco. Spanish authorities are still searching for the passengers who got away. Reuters reported that two of the 14 escaped passengers have been arrested.
This forced emergency landing isn’t the first time an incident like this has happened. In November 2021, an Air Arabia Maroc flight from Casablanca to Istanbul was forced to land in Palma de Mallorca, Spain after a passenger appeared to be going into a diabetic coma. Like in Barcelona, 21 passengers fled and the medical emergency was found to be fake.
The motives behind these incidents haven’t been confirmed, but Spanish authorities believe these are planned attempts to immigrate illegally into Europe. Since the mid-1990s, various European countries have abolished border controls between each other. These 27 countries are referred to collectively as the Schengen Area, named after the treaties that established the agreement. Though, these countries still strictly enforce their borders with countries outside Schengen and closely cooperate to do so. This has led many people to resort to desperate measures to escape strife and find a better life in Europe.