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Miracle of birth – Barcelona refugees run for beautiful horizon

Spanish police are searching for 14 passengers who jumped off a commercial flight after an emergency landing and ran for the hills in a scene more like an Adam Sandler movie than a people smuggling operation.

Pegasus Airlines flight PC652 from Casablanca to Istanbul was diverted to Barcelona’s El Prat Airport to make a forced landing after a passenger on board appeared to go into labour.

Refugees will do almost anything to get into Europe. Authorities say that, as soon as the cabin doors were opened, a group of 28 people tried to rush off the Airbus A321. Police managed to stop half of the group, but 14 escapees remain at large.

The woman, who doctors later found was pregnant but not about to give birth, was arrested on suspicion of public disorder offences.

In a bizarre move, Spanish authorities said that five of the runners who were caught agreed to be put back on the flight to Istanbul. The rest are being processed for non-admission to Spain. It is expected they, along with the expectant mum, will be put on another Pegasus flight out of the country and should be back in Morocco in time for the country’s next match at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 on Sunday. Spanish police are searching for the remaining 12 fugitives.

Some 228 passengers had been on Flight PC652, which landed in Istanbul at 1.10pm local time after a delay of only three hours, according to Flightradar.com.

A similar incident took place more than a year ago on the Spanish island of Mallorca when a group of passengers flying from Casablanca to Istanbul rushed off a plane onto the tarmac following another similar emergency landing under a false pretext. Of the 24 who absconded that day, 12 were arrested and deported.

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Jon Whitman

Jon Whitman is a seasoned journalist and author who has been living and working in Asia for more than two decades. Born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland, Jon has been at the forefront of some of the most important stories coming out of China in the past decade. After a long and successful career, Jon is now semi-retired, living in a quiet village in Krabi province, Thailand. He continues to write and is an avid traveler and photographer, documenting his experiences across the world.