25 passengers were admitted into a hospital after severe turbulence hit Aeroflot flight SU 270 from Moscow to Bangkok, Thailand on Monday.
The incident happened just 40 minutes before landing, just after midnight, but the crew successfully landed at Bangkok airport at 3.38am Moscow time.
Rostik Rusev, a passenger onboard the flight, told CNN that the turbulence lasted for about 10 seconds, and there was blood on the ceiling, people with broken noses and babies who were hurt. “It was like a driving a car and a tire suddenly burst,” he said.
Rusev’s video of the incident can be seen below:
A press release from Aeroflot said that none of the passengers suffered spinal compression fractures, and the patients that are still under doctors’ care have contusions, and several have fractured or broken bones.
“There were 313 passengers on board, 25 of whom were admitted to Bangkok hospitals for treatment. Eleven have already been discharged, and the rest are still receiving medical care,” the press release informed. It added that the flight was piloted by experienced crew members, with a pilot who has more than 23,000 flight hours, and the co-pilot with over 10,500 flight hours.
The incident was triggered by “clear-air turbulence”, an occurrence that happens without any clouds and in clear skies with good visibility. In such situations, weather radar is unable to be alerted of its approach, resulting in the crew being unable to warn passengers of the need to return to their seats.
Photos from passengers on board the flight showed luggages, food and drinks strewn all over the cabin. Passengers were also hurled to the floor.
Aeroflot said that representatives and employees of the Consulate of the Russian Federation in Bangkok are in contact with the victims to provide them with assistance with hotel booking cancellations, changing check-in dates, as well as re-ticketing of transfer passengers’ flights to their final destinations, as and when needed.
“All costs related to re-ticketing, as well as expenses for passengers’ medical treatment, will be fully covered by the airline,” the airline informed through its press release.
In a 2015 report, The Telegraph reported that according to the Federal Aviation Administration, there were 234 accidents involving turbulence between 1980 and 2008. Of these, Heather Poole, an American air stewardess and the author of Cruising Attitude: Tales of Crashpads, Crew Drama and Crazy Passengers said that they resulted in 298 serious injuries and, worse, three fatalities. “Of the three fatalities, two passengers were not wearing a safety belt while the seat belt sign was illuminated,” she added.
Ms Poole added that, “The idea that being buckled up will slow you down should you need to evacuate has been discredited by industry experts. It’s much harder to find your way to the exit if turbulence has left you concussed”.