A Hawaiian Airlines plane faced an unexpected burst of intense turbulence on Sunday night, leaving some passengers with serious injuries. The incident occurred just before landing.

Intense Turbulence Causes Serious Injuries

The aircraft, an Airbus A330, had been flying from the US city of Phoenix to Honolulu when it encountered severe turbulence. The plane had been about 30 minutes away from landing and was carrying 278 passengers and ten flight crew members when the scene occurred.

Of those onboard, 36 individuals were treated for various injuries ranging from bruises and lacerations to serious head injuries and loss of consciousness, according to Honolulu Emergency Medical Services.

Upon landing, those on the plane were met by firefighters, paramedics and the Aircraft Rescue Firefighting Team at Gate 10A after a “mass casualty emergency” was triggered.

Twenty people were taken to local hospitals, where they were treated in emergency rooms. These 20 individuals consisted of 17 passengers and three members of the crew. Eight ambulances arrived at the scene to transport people to hospitals whilst a city bus took the others.

Based on recent reports, eleven people have been described as being in a serious condition, whilst the remaining nine are currently stable. The youngest of those treated were a 14-month- old baby and a young teenager.

A turbulent surprise

One passenger, Kaylee Reyes, spoke to Hawaii News Now about her experience. She explained that her mother had only just sat down when the turbulence hit, leaving her with no time to fasten her seatbelt.

Jazmin Bitanga, another passenger onboard the aircraft, was returning home for the holidays when she was caught up in the turbulent flight. She said, “I turned around, and there was a couple of people bleeding and just bracing themselves.” She added, “Just all around me, there were people crying.”

Damages caused inside the plane
Damage caused to the plane due to severe turbulence | © Jazmin Bitanga

Dr Jim Ireland, Honolulu EMS Director, 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 also sent his well wishes to those affected as well as their families.

Something to be expected?

At the time of the intense turbulence, there were reportedly thunderstorms in the area. Geni Kino, a meteorologist for The National Weather Service, said,

“We believe the flight might have gone through a thunderstorm, which may have caused the severe turbulence. During that time, there were scattered thunderstorms everywhere.”

Jon Snook, Hawaiian Airlines executive vice president and chief of operating officer, stressed that although “there’s a lot of unstable air” surrounding the islands, severe turbulence is uncommon.

However, this comes after reports earlier this year stating that air turbulence is about to get a lot worse due to the effects of climate change. Research has shown that sporadic weather patterns may be to blame for the rise in cases of extreme turbulence.

Have you had any nightmare experiences with intense turbulence? Let us know in the comments.

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