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Monday, Sep 15, 2014
US & World News

Passengers hurt as another flight hits severe turbulence


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HONG KONG — Cathay Pacific Airways said Wednesday that nine people were injured when a Boeing 747 hit severe turbulence over Japan.

The airline said two crew members and six passengers were taken to hospital after the jet landed in Hong Kong on Tuesday evening. Another passenger who sustained an injury didn’t require hospitalization.

The 747-400, which departed from San Francisco, was carrying 321 passengers and a crew of 21. It encountered the turbulence near Hokkaido around noon Hong Kong time Tuesday.

Cable News television showed one passenger being taken away in a stretcher.

A passenger surnamed Wu told local TV news channels he felt like he was on a roller coaster during the turbulence, which lasted two minutes. He said some passengers were thrown out of their seats and hit the overhead bins.

It was the second flight to experience extreme turbulence this week.

A crew member remained hospitalized Tuesday after violent turbulence triggered “pandemonium” aboard a United Airlines flight into Billings, Mont., and sent passengers and crew flying through the cabin, according to company representatives and passengers.

Ejay Old Bull said drinks had just been served and passengers were moving around the cabin on the flight from Denver when the plane started to lurch violently with no prior warning, approximately 55 minutes into the 90-minute flight.

“It was a solid 20 seconds of pandemonium,” said Old Bull, a 26-year-old graduate student who was returning to school at Billings’ Rocky Mountain College. “What really hurt people and what really got everyone panicked was when the plane tipped to the right and dropped for about four or five seconds. That’s when people started praying.”

Old Bull said he watched his unrestrained seat mate crash headfirst into the overhead luggage bin and briefly lose consciousness. Meanwhile, a crew member was bouncing around in the galley just behind his seat, Old Bull said.

Federal safety officials said they were looking into the incident, which left three crew members and two passengers injured.

No details were available on the condition of the female crew member who remained hospitalized. United spokeswoman Christen David said an airline supervisor was by her side at the hospital.

The Boeing 737-300 involved has been taken out of service while the airline reviews what happened, David said.

Flight 1676 encountered the unusually rough turbulence Monday afternoon while flying over Wyoming at an altitude of 34,000 feet, authorities said.

A spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board said the agency was gathering details on the severity of injuries and whether there was any damage to the aircraft. That information will determine if a full-scale investigation is warranted, said NTSB spokesman Terry Williams.

During the last decade about 33 people annually were injured during turbulence on airplanes, with crew members suffering most of the injuries, according to information from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Turbulence is caused by air movements created by weather events such as thunderstorms, cold or warm fronts and air moving around mountains, according to the FAA. It can occur unexpectedly and when the sky appears clear.

Authorities say staying buckled up is one of the easiest ways to prevent injuries.

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