Monk opens plane's emergency exit for fresh air

Bernama, Nov 24, 2009

NEW DELHI, India -- A Buddhist monk who opened the emergency exit of an airplane just before take off because he wanted some fresh air forced the plane to delay its flight for almost seven hours at Kolkata airport yesterday morning.

As result of his action, the airport authorities evacuated all the passengers onboard and grounded the plane for nearly seven hours until all the safety drills were completed.

The Hindu newspaper reported that the bizarre incident happened on Air India's flight IC-727 that was heading to Yangon with 135 passengers on board.

The monk from Myanmar, a 45-year-old Waza Thunga, believed to be a second time flier, was feeling claustrophobic inside the plane, which was still on the runway, and decided to open the emergency exit next to his seat after browsing the plane's safety manual.

"As soon as he pulled the safety clutch, the emergency window opened and the emergency bells rang.

"The occurrence of such a situation is rare but what can you do to prevent such a thing. How can we control it if a passenger sets off an alarm by mistake," the airline's spokesman Pulok Mukherjee told the newspaper.

It is not known whether the airline took any action against the monk, who spoke very little English.