SUVA, Fiji Islands (Oct. 12, 2000 - The Fiji Times/PINA Nius Online)---A passenger on an Air Fiji flight from Nausori to Taveuni is feared dead after he opened the rear door and appeared to jump out shortly after take-off from Nausori Airport.

The flight left Nausori at 2:40 p.m. and was about 28 miles from the airport when the incident happened.

There were 10 passengers on board the aircraft.

A passenger who was sitting near the missing man said the American stood up, walked to the rear and opened the door.

"He was sucked out of the plane in seconds," said the passenger, who did not wish to be identified.

"We were shocked and frightened when the man forced open the door.

"Nobody wanted to do anything because the wind was very strong up there.

"We were very lucky that the pilots were alert and they warned us not to panic."

The flight returned to Nausori with the rear door open.

Passengers said the American was traveling alone.

Air Fiji chief executive Ken Macdonald said it was a tragic incident and other passengers and crew were never in any danger.

Asked if the airline had put in place procedures to prevent this type of incident in the future, Mr. Macdonald said Air Fiji had to comply with aviation emergency law.

"It will be very hard to put in place a special system to always lock the doors because every plane has to have a safety emergency exit," he said.

For additional reports from the Fiji Times, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Fiji Times.

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