At least 36 injured after Hawaii-bound flight hits severe turbulence
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow/Gray News) - At least 36 people were injured, including 11 seriously, during a Hawaiian Airlines flight to Honolulu.
KHNL reports the flight was traveling from Phoenix, Arizona and hit severe turbulence about 30 minutes from landing in Honolulu on Sunday.
The turbulence sent some passengers flying out of their seats and at least one hit the ceiling.
Hawaiian Airlines said Flight 35 from Phoenix “landed safely” in Honolulu about 10:50 a.m. The Airbus A330 was carrying 278 passengers and 10 crew members.
“The airline is supporting all affected passengers and employees,” an airline spokesperson said.
Shortly before the aircraft landed, dozens of firefighters, paramedics and the state Aircraft Rescue Firefighting Team were called to the airport for the “mass casualty emergency,” meeting the aircraft at the gate.
KHNL reports the age of passengers injured ranged from 14 months to adults. Passengers were treated for a long list of injuries, including serious head injuries, cuts, bruises and loss of consciousness.
Of those injured, 20 people were taken to emergency rooms.
Eleven were in serious condition and nine were in stable condition, Honolulu EMS Director Dr. Jim Ireland said.
“Although initially we thought there were some patients with critical injuries, after further assessment it turns out they weren’t that severely injured, which was great,” Ireland said.
It was unclear how many of those injured were airline crew members.
The National Weather Service said the severe turbulence happened at about 36,000 feet.
“We believe the flight may have gone through a thunderstorm, which may have caused the severe turbulence,” said NWS meteorologist Genki Kino. “During that time, there were scattered thunderstorms everywhere.”
Passenger Kaylee Reyes said the plane was about 30 minutes from landing when the severe turbulence hit. Her mother had just sat down when the incident happened and hadn’t had a chance to buckle her seatbelt.
“She flew up and hit the ceiling,” Reyes said, adding the turbulence came out of nowhere.
Passenger Jazmin Bitanga said there were actually two “intense” drops of altitude — one so strong it sent her boyfriend’s metal water bottle flying up so hard it cracked the ceiling above them.
“I turned around and there was a couple of people bleeding and just bracing themselves,” said Bitanga, who was flying home from college for the holidays. “Just all around me there were people crying.”
The incident comes as a powerful cold front begins to impact the state, bringing the threat of strong winds, torrential rains and thunderstorms.
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