Representative image. Photograph:( AFP )
'Someone had been told that a baby had been found in the toilet and they were trying to find out who the mother was,' a passenger claimed
Several women were asked to deboard the flight and were strip-searched by the authorities of Qatar Airways onboard a flight from Doha to Sydney.
Flight QR908 to Sydney was about to leave the Hamad International airport at Doha at 8.30 on Friday when the authorities found an infant's dead body at the airport.
Following this, authorities asked several women to step down and those women returned to the plain after almost three-four hours.
The plane had 34 passengers on board, and one of the passengers told Guardian Australia that when the women returned, “most of them were very upset”.
“At least one of them was crying, they were discussing what had happened and saying that it was unacceptable and disgusting,” the passenger said.
He said the plan took off after a delay of more than three hours and when he interacted with the concerned (almost) 13 passengers, they told him about how they were subjected to search and medical exams.
“They were taken by security personnel into the cellar, not knowing what was going on,” he said. “And then they were presented to a female doctor and they were basically strip-searched and had to take everything downwards off, all their clothes, even their underwear.
“And then the doctor would try to feel in the uterus and stomach area or lower abdomen to see whether they may have given birth recently.
“Someone had been told that a baby had been found in the toilet and they were trying to find out who the mother was.”
The Australian government has registered "serious concerns" with Qatari authorities following the incident. The authorities said they were “aware of concerning reports regarding the treatment, in Qatar, of passengers on a Qatar Airways flight to Sydney”.
An updated statement, that was released on Sunday night, stated that the Australian government had “formally registered our serious concerns regarding the incident with Qatari authorities and have been assured that detailed and transparent information on the event will be provided soon”.
The Qatar Airways, however, has claimed that they have not been contacted by any of the passengers, but are investigating the matter. “We appreciate the concerns and distress expressed to you by the Australian passengers who you have spoken to, and will be investigating these matters with the relevant authorities and officials,” a spokesperson said.