(LEAD) Man who opened plane door says he wanted to get off quickly: police

A passenger who opened a door of an Asiana Airlines plane just before landing at an airport earlier this week has told police that he opened the door as he felt suffocated and wanted to get off the aircraft quickly, police officials said Saturday.

On Friday, police detained the 33-year-old man, only identified by his surname Lee, on suspicions of pulling the door lever after the plane's door suddenly opened about 213 meters above ground right before it landed at Daegu International Airport in Daegu, 237 kilometers southeast of Seoul.

During questioning, the man told officials that he had been under a lot of stress after losing his job recently and that he opened the door because he wanted to get off quickly after feeling suffocated, according to police officials.

Police sought an arrest warrant for Lee for an alleged violation of the aviation security law, citing the seriousness of his case and the risk of flight.

Under the act, a passenger who operates the doors, emergency exits or devices of an airplane could face a prison term of up to 10 years.

None of the 194 people aboard the plane fell out or were hurt in Friday's incident, but 12 panicked passengers showed symptoms of breathing difficulty and some of them were taken to a hospital.

The plane was on its way to Daegu after departing from the southern holiday island of Jeju.

The land ministry has been investigating Asiana Airlines over whether the aircraft had any problems and whether the flight attendants aboard abided by aviation safety rules.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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