This is what the interior of the plane looked like when it landed. RC
112 incident

Around 30 passengers injured after severe turbulence hits Air Europa flight from Spain

The aircraft was forced to divert from its route and make an emergency landing so the injured could be treated and transferred to hospital

Javier Varela


Tuesday, 2 July 2024, 09:51

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Around 30 people have been injured after severe turbulence struck an Air Europa flight from Spain's Madrid to Montevideo, capital of Uruguay, overnight.

Flight UX45 was forced to make an emergency landing in Natal in Brazil, where some 15 ambulances were needed to rush the injured to Monsignor Walfredo Gurgel Hospital. People suffered a range of injuries from cervical fractures and facial injuries to chest pains.

"The public health secretariat has attended to several victims of an air incident," the government of the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Norte confirmed on social media. The plane landed at Natal International Airport "with multiple victims attended to by the emergency and urgency network", it added.

Air Europa said as a result of the turbulence on flight UX45 there were "seven injuries of varying degrees, in addition to an undetermined number of passengers with minor contusions". However, Brazilian media have updated the number of injuries to 30.

The Air Europa plane, after it landed. RC
Imagen principal - The Air Europa plane, after it landed.
Imagen secundaria 1 - The Air Europa plane, after it landed.
Imagen secundaria 2 - The Air Europa plane, after it landed.

Among the injured passengers is a Galician sailor with four broken ribs who was travelling with other passengers to set sail for the Falklands to fish for hake on a Vigo fishing boat.

Passengers without seatbelts

According to some of the passengers on the flight, the aircraft reportedly plummeted for a few seconds due to hitting extreme turbulence, causing several passengers who were not wearing seat belts to be thrown out of their seats.

A Venezuelan passenger who was on the aircraft told Uruguayan digital newspaper El Observador the flight was going normally until the pilot announced the plane was about to enter turbulence and asked passengers to fasten their seat belts and remain seated. Norys, the passenger, said that "a long time after that, there was a very slight turbulence, you could hardly feel it, and from one moment to the next, the plane abruptly dropped and we all went up. Those who didn't have seat belts on flew around and some of them got caught on the ceiling. It lasted about three seconds".

One passenger ended up in overhead luggage compartment

Another passenger said: "The sensation was one of terror, feeling that you are falling and it doesn't end. And you are aware that you are falling at an incalculable speed. You felt that it ended there, that you were dying. Until we started to see on the screen that the plane started to go up". Another passenger who was travelling with his parents recounted the panic on the flight: "More than turbulence, we plummeted for eight seconds. There were also children flying".

One of the passengers was trapped in the hand luggage compartment at the top of the plane. Images captured by other passengers show the man inside the luggage compartment with his feet dangling and needing help from two other passengers to get out.

The affected aircraft was a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner and was carrying 325 passengers. It left Madrid Barajas Airport at 12.27am Spanish time on Monday and was due to arrive in Uruguay at 7.27pm on Sunday (local time in the destination country). The aircraft will now be checked to determine the extent of the damage caused by the turbulence and the airline will send another one to pick up the affected passengers in Brazil.

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