‘We thought we were going to die,’ says passenger on turbulent Air Europa flight

Passengers on board an Air Europa flight that was diverted to northeastern Brazil on Monday due to severe turbulence said they feared for their lives during the incident, which injured about 40 people, four of whom were taken to intensive care.

“There are passengers with fractures and injuries to their arms, faces and legs,” a passenger told Reuters 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.

β€œIt was a pretty horrible feeling. We thought we were going to die there,” said the man, Stevan, who gave only his first name.

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

“Suddenly the plane became unstable and went into a dive,” he said.

“The people who were not wearing a seat belt flew into the air and landed on the ceiling. They were injured. Those who were wearing a seat belt were less injured.”

4 people in the ICU

Air Europa said in a statement on Tuesday that six people remain in hospital in Natal and are being treated by ground crew from Brazil and Spain.

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

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The government secretariat of Rio Grande do Norte state, where Natal is located, said Tuesday that four people were taken to intensive care, out of a total of 40 passengers taken to hospitals. On Monday, it reported around 30.

Air Europa reported that a replacement flight had departed earlier in the day to take passengers to Montevideo. Passengers were bused from Natal to the larger Recife airport.

Passenger on flight to Singapore died in May

It was added that the aircraft was being examined to determine the extent of the damage.

The airline did not immediately respond to a request for further comment on the incident, which came less than two months after a passenger died and dozens of people were injured when a Singapore Airlines flight from London to Singapore hit turbulence.

A broken piece of the plane's cabin ceiling dangles as passengers walk down the aisle.
On Monday, a piece of equipment was dangling from a ceiling panel as passengers exited the plane. The plane was en route from Madrid to Montevideo, Uruguay, but had been diverted to Brazil due to turbulence. (@PICHIPASTOSO/X/Reuters)

Some scientists warn of increasing turbulence as a result of climate change.

The most common cause of turbulence is unstable weather patterns that create storms. These can normally be detected by weather radar, allowing pilots to fly around them.

WATCH | Deadly turbulence on Singapore Airlines flight:

Deadly Turbulence on Singapore Airlines: How It Happened | About That

One passenger died and dozens were injured after a Singapore Airlines flight from London hit severe turbulence and was forced to make an emergency landing in Bangkok. Andrew Chang explains what makes this type of turbulence invisible and dangerous.

Recent incidents have raised concerns in the airline industry about seat belts and safety practices.

Under an international agreement, the Montreal Convention, airlines are liable for bodily injuries resulting from accidents on international flights, which may include turbulence, regardless of whether the airline was negligent.

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