The emergency landing caused chaos at Palma Airport as 40 flights had to be delayed (Picture: EPA/CATI CLADERA)
A manhunt has been launched in Majorca after more than 20 migrants escaped from a plane while their accomplice allegedly faked a medical emergency.
The aircraft heading to Instanbul from Casablanca was diverted to Palma Airport yesterday evening after one of the passengers appeared to be suffering from a diabetic coma.
As paramedics came on board, a group of Moroccan migrants escaped through an open door, crossing the runway and disappearing into the night.
The man accused of feigning a diabetic coma told medics he was fine when he got to the Spanish island’s Son Llatzer hospital.
Local reports last night said the ‘fake patient’ at the centre of the drama, believed to be in his twenties or thirties, has requested political asylum.
A companion allowed to travel with him to the medical centre went on the run this morning, having vanished soon after their arrival.
So far police have managed to intercept 11 people and sources say they are looking for another 12 who went missing from the flight.
It is thought the grounded Air Maroc plane was being operated by Air Arabic Maroc (Picture: EPA)
Two Spanish Civil Guards at Palma de Mallorca airport search the runways for escapees (Picture: EPA)
Investigators are treating the incident, believed to be a first in aviation history, as a well-orchestrated and ingenious coup.
Well-placed sources said the passengers who fled the aircraft massed on an exit door as medical responders arrived to treat the ‘sick’ man and made their escape.
Initially the plane was thought to belong to Air Maroc but was being identified locally this morning as an Air Arabic Maroc-operated aircraft.
The escape led to the suspension of all airport operations for nearly four hours, with Spanish airports authority Aena confirming business had been resumed in a tweet just before midnight.
It said this morning that 13 flights scheduled to land at Palma had been diverted – five to Barcelona, four to Ibiza, two to Menorca, one to Madrid Barajas and another to Valencia.
Several migrants fled from an open door of the plane, crossed the runway, and disappeared into the night (Picture: Splashnews)
The man alleged to have faked a medical incident is said to have claimed political asylum in hospital (Picture: EPA)
Around 40 incoming and outbound flights, including several international flights, are said to have been delayed.
Both the National Police and the Civil Guard, Spain’s two national police forces, are involved in the hunt for the runaways.
Majorca is increasingly a key destination for people smugglers who help illegal migrants reach the island by boat from places like Algeria.
Moroccans tend to favour the Canaries route and the Straits of Gibraltar to make the dangerous sea crossing from their homeland.
In December 2017, police arrested a Moroccan OAP after discovering him trying to smuggle a 12-year-old boy into Spain curled up inside the dashboard of his car.
Officers discovered the youngster – believed to be from Guinea, West Africa – hidden in a foetal position in a pair of dirty shorts after detecting his heartbeat using a special machine.
An officer confirmed the schoolboy had been stuffed into the tiny space between the engine and the passenger of the BMW.
This was after reaching into the dashboard with his hand at a checkpoint on the border between Morocco and Spain’s north African enclave of Melilla
It was ripped apart and the child was found to be disorientated and suffering breathing difficulties and numbness in his limbs because of the position he was in – requiring medical assistance.
In May 2015 officials at the border crossing between Morocco and Spain’s other North African enclave of Ceuta found an eight-year-old boy in a suitcase being dragged by a young Moroccan woman.
His father, Ali Ouattara, who was already in Spain and had paid to try to get little Adou across the border to join him, was later fined and handed a three-month suspended prison sentence by a court in Cadiz.
He insisted at his trial he had no idea his son was going to be stuffed in a suitcase and thought he would enter Spain illegally in a car.
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