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Six passengers of turbulence-hit plane still in Brazil hospital—airline

By Agence France-Presse Published Jul 03, 2024 8:20 am

Six passengers among dozens injured in severe turbulence on a flight from Madrid remain hospitalized in Brazil, where their plane had to make an emergency landing, Air Europa said Tuesday, July 2.

Of the rest, 303 have made it safely to their destination of Montevideo more than a day after the rattling experience Monday, July 1, it added in a statement.

The Uruguay-bound plane, a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner with 325 passengers on board, was diverted in the early morning hours of Monday to the airport of Natal in northeast Brazil after experiencing "severe turbulence," according to the airline. 

Forty passengers were taken to hospitals and clinics in Natal for treatment of "abrasions and minor traumas," the health secretariat of Brazil's Rio Grande do Norte state said. 

Air Europa said most of the injuries were "bruises and contusions." 

"At the moment, only six passengers remain in the hospital" in Natal along with some of their companions, said the airline.

Another 303 passengers arrived in Montevideo early Tuesday after being bused from Natal to Recife, and then flown to the Uruguayan capital in a fresh plane sent from Madrid. 

"Air Europa deeply regrets what happened, as well as the inconvenience caused to its customers," the airline said, and wished the injured "a quick recovery."

Brazilian authorities have said that nationals of Spain, Argentina, Uruguay, Israel, Bolivia, and Germany were among the injured. 

In May, a 73-year-old British man died and several other passengers and crew suffered skull, brain and spine injuries when a Singapore Airlines-operated Boeing 777 hit severe turbulence on a flight from London and was forced to make an emergency landing in Bangkok. 

A week later, 12 people were injured during turbulence on a Qatar Airways Boeing 787-9 flight from Doha to Ireland. 

Air safety experts say passengers are often too casual about wearing seatbelts, leaving them at risk if the plane hits unexpected turbulence. 

Scientists also say that so-called clear air turbulence, which is invisible to radar, is getting worse because of climate change. 

Monday's incident was the latest drama involving a Boeing plane, as the manufacturer faces intense scrutiny following a near-catastrophic event in January, when a fuselage panel blew out of an Alaska Airlines-operated 737 MAX. (AFP)