Australian officials have called for an investigation into reports that a number of female passengers were strip-searched and examined before a Sydney-bound Qatar Airways flight at Hamad International Airport in Doha earlier this month.
Australian media reported that women were told to disembark the aircraft after a newborn baby was discovered abandoned in the airport terminal. According to reports, 13 Australian women were examined in an ambulance on the tarmac after being told to remove their underwear.
Australia’s Foreign Minister, Marise Payne, told the BBC that the government had requested an explanation and investigation from Qatari officials.
She had referred the "grossly disturbing, offensive, concerning set of events" to the Australian Federal Police, Ms Payne told reporters.
A spokeswoman for Hamad International Airport confirmed to the BBC that individuals “who had access to the specific area of the airport where the newborn infant was found were asked to assist in the query”.
"Medical professionals expressed concern to officials about the health and welfare of a mother who had just given birth and requested she be located prior to departing", the spokeswoman said in a statement.
A male passenger who was on-board the aircraft told the Australian Broadcasting Corporatio that “many [of the women who had been removed from the plane] were upset, one of them was in tears – a younger woman”.
Ms Payne told reporters: "This is an extraordinary incident and I have never heard of anything occurring like this in my life."
The airport confirmed that the newborn baby is being cared for and is seeking information about the mother.
Qatar’s government has been approached for comment regarding the incident, which took place on 2 October.