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Passengers thought they were going to die in Air Europa horror turbulence that left six in hospital

Simon Calder’s Travel

Passengers from a flight diverted to Brazil due to severe turbulence have said they feared for their lives during the incident which injured around 40 people and left blood stains on airplane seats.

Some said they thought they were going to die during the incident.

“There are passengers with fractures and injuries to their arms, faces, and legs,” one passenger said in the Brazilian city of Natal, where flight UX045 from Madrid to the Uruguayan capital, Montevideo, made an unscheduled landing just after 2.30 a.m. local time (0530 GMT).

“It was a pretty horrible feeling. We thought we were going to die there,” said the man, Stevan, giving only his first name.

Another passenger, Maximiliano, said the plane – a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner with 325 passengers on board – had suddenly started to plunge.

“From one moment to the next, the plane destabilized and went into a dive,” he said. “The people who didn’t have seat belts went up in the air and hit the ceiling, and they got hurt – those who had seat belts on, not so much.”

Air Europa seats after the emergency landing from severe turbulence
Air Europa seats after the emergency landing from severe turbulence (Reuters)

Air Europa said in a statement that six people were still in hospital in Natal and were being assisted by ground personnel from Brazil and Spain.

“Air Europa deeply regrets what happened, as well as the inconvenience caused to its customers. The airline hopes for a speedy recovery of the affected passengers and is at the disposal of all its customers to assist them,” the airline added.

An international agreement, the Montreal Convention, makes airlines liable for physical injuries from accidents on international flights, which can include turbulence, regardless of whether they were negligent.

The secretariat from the government of Rio Grande do Norte state, where Natal is located, said on Tuesday that four people had been taken to intensive care units, from a total of 40 passengers that had been sent to hospitals, up from some 30 initially reported on Monday.

Air Europa said a replacement flight to take the passengers on to Montevideo had left earlier in the day, with passengers transported from Natal to Recife’s larger airport by bus.

It added that the aircraft was being reviewed to establish the extent of the damage.

Pictures posted on social media by one of the passengers showed broken ceiling panels with visible pipes and wires…

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