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Severe Turbulence Injures 36

National

Thirty-six people were treated after being injured on a full flight to Hawaii on Sunday | Image by Jazmin Bitanga/AP

Thirty-six people were treated after being injured on a full flight to Hawaii on Sunday, December 18.

Officials say the multiple injuries were due to severe turbulence on a Hawaiian Airlines flight from Phoenix to Honolulu, carrying 278 passengers and 10 crew members.

Jazmin Bitanga was on Flight 35 when she said her life flashed before her eyes.

“I turned around and there was a couple of people bleeding and just bracing themselves,” Bitanga told Hawaii News Now after the flight.

Although the seatbelt sign was on during the unsteady flight, passengers sustained injuries such as cuts, bumps, and bruises, while others suffered from vomiting and head injuries, according to the New York Post.

Of the 36 people injured, 11 were reported as seriously injured. The youngest passenger treated was 14 months. Three crew members were also injured.

Another passenger caught in the turbulence, Kaylee Reyes, recalled how the unexpected turbulence threw her mother in the air after she had returned from the bathroom.

“She flew up and hit the ceiling,” Reyes told Hawaii News Now.

The flight’s turbulence was so intense that the Honolulu Emergency Medical Services director said the interior of the plane was visibly damaged after the incident.

Jon Snook, Hawaiian Airlines COO, described the incident as relatively uncommon.

“We haven’t experienced an incident of this nature in recent history,” he said in a press conference following the incident.

A thunderstorm advisory was in effect for areas on the plane’s path, which could have been the cause of the turbulence. Snook spoke at a press conference and said there was “no warning of this particular patch of air.” The flight was about 40 minutes from landing when the turbulence took place and about to prepare for descent.

Immediately after the incident, the plane prepared to land. The runway was cleared and the plane was given priority to land. Emergency medics on the ground were waiting to deal with the multiple passengers injured on board. All of the passengers transported to the hospital have been reported to have non-critical injuries.

The National Transportation Safety Board will be looking further into the incident.

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