Turbulence at Haiwaiian Airlines: More than 30 people injured

Important points
  • At least 36 passengers were injured after a Hawaiian Airlines plane was rocked by severe turbulence.
  • The incident happened approximately 30 minutes before the flight to Honolulu could land.
  • Trapped passengers captured the chaos on video showing unconscious passengers, belongings tangled up and oxygen masks dangling in the air.
US security officials will launch an investigation into a Hawaiian Airlines flight after severe turbulence left at least 36 people injured and 20 hospitalized.
The HA35 flight from Phoenix to Honolulu was about to descend when it encountered turbulence, according to the US Federal Aviation Administration. The incident happened around 7:35 a.m. AEDT on Monday.

Passengers documented the chaos on video, showing bleeding or unconscious seated passengers and crew, belongings scattered around the cabin and oxygen masks dangling in the air.

“My life flashed before my eyes. I was scared,” said Kaylee Reyes, one of the 288 people on board at the time of the incident.

“My mom wasn’t wearing a seat belt, so I turned right and saw that she was like … she was hitting the ceiling and she was hitting the floor.”

Officials confirmed that 20 passengers and crew were taken to the local hospital, 11 of whom were in serious condition. Seventeen were passengers and three were crew members.
The youngest passengers injured were a 14-month-old baby and a teenager, the BBC reported.

After landing, passengers received medical attention at the terminal and, if necessary, were attended to in ambulances.

Cell phone pictures of the plane's missing interior trim, a loosely hanging oxygen mask and damage to plane seats.

This mobile imagery photo combo, courtesy of passenger Jazmin Bitanga, shows the interior of the Hawaiian Airlines plane after it encountered severe turbulence. Source: AAP / Yazmin Bitanga/AP

Severe thunderstorms were in the area at the time of the turbulence, and Hawaiian Air chief operating officer Jon Snook said the airline is familiar with the instability such weather conditions can bring.

“The seat belt sign was at the time it happened and we are obviously in a situation where we are dealing with a lot of unstable air and weather conditions that are difficult for an airline to cope with,” Mr Snook said.

Mr Snook added he was “grateful for the support” from the crew and emergency services, who rushed to deal with “a very difficult situation”.

The airline announced that it would subject the Airbus A330 to a thorough inspection before it is put back into service.

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