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'The plane just dropped': Dozens injured in turbulence on Air Canada flight

The flight from Vancouver to Sydney encountered “un-forecasted and sudden turbulence”.

Passengers from the flight diverted to Honolulu.
Passengers from the flight diverted to Honolulu.
Image: AP/PA Images

DOZENS OF PEOPLE were violently slammed off the ceiling of an aircraft that encountered unexpected and intense turbulence over the Pacific Ocean yesterday. 

An Air Canada flight to Australia made an emergency landing in Honolulu after 37 people were injured, nine seriously, during the sudden loss of altitude that sent people flying into the luggage compartments and aisles of the airplane.

The flight from Vancouver to Sydney encountered “un-forecasted and sudden turbulence”, about two hours past Hawaii when the plane diverted to Honolulu, an Air Canada spokesperson said in a statement.

“The plane just dropped,” passenger Stephanie Beam told The Associated Press.

When we hit turbulence, I woke up and looked over to make sure my kids were buckled. The next thing I knew there’s just literally bodies on the ceiling of the plane.

A woman behind her hit the ceiling so hard that she broke the casing of an oxygen mask, said Beam.

Of the 37 passengers and flight crew members injured, nine had serious injuries, emergency responders said. Thirty people were taken to hospitals.

Emergency responders

The Honolulu Emergency Medical Services said the injured ranged in age from children to the elderly. Customs agents and emergency responders met passengers at the gate at the Honolulu airport to ensure they could get medical attention quickly.

A spokesperson said injuries included cuts, bumps, bruises, neck pain and back pain. More than two dozen people were taken to hospitals, she said.

Llyn Williams was traveling with his wife Erica Daly back to their home in Sydney, Australia. His wife was injured and taken to the hospital.

He said when they hit the violent turbulence, “everybody who was not seated and belted in hit the roof, almost everybody in our cabin”.

Williams described the cabin afterward as frightening, with plastic lying around and oxygen masks dangling.

“A lot of blood everywhere,” he said. “It was really quite scary.”

Babies and children were crying as crew members went through the cabin assessing injuries. About 15 minutes later, there was an announcement asking for passengers who are medical professionals to help, Beam said.

The turbulence happened at 36,000 feet about 966 kilometres southwest of Honolulu. The Boeing 777-200 was carrying 269 passengers and 15 crew members, according to an Air Canada spokesperson. 

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Associated Press

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