Society

At Least 14 Injured After Extreme Flight Turbulence

| by Sarah Zimmerman
United aircraftUnited aircraft

At least nine passengers and one crew member were injured on a Houston-bound flight June 20 when the plane experienced extreme turbulence.

About halfway through a United Airlines flight from Panama City to Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport, the plane began flying on the outskirts of Tropical Storm Cindy near Cancun, Mexico. At this point, reports the Daily Mail, the flight began experiencing severe turbulence, causing many to be thrown from their seats, with some passengers hitting the ceiling. 

"United Flight 1031, a Boeing 737, reported encountering severe turbulence in Mexican airspace, about 80 miles east of Cancun," according to a statement released by the FAA. "The aircraft landed safely at George Houston Bush Intercontinental Airport just after 2:30 p.m."  

Paramedics were readied on the ground in Houston to assist those injured. Approximately 14 were hurt; according to United, 10 were transported to the hospital.

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Those on board say that passengers were thrown about like rag dolls.   

One passenger, Carlos Padron, was left with a scab after banging his head during the turbulent flight. He told KTRK about the scene unfolding around him.

"Many people were crying," he said.

His daughter Isa corroborated his statements, adding: "Many people, they jumped to the ceiling of the plane."

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Teenagers and grandparents alike were hurt in the incident. Most experienced minor injuries, such as bumps, bruises or cuts. Of the passengers taken to the hospital, some were admitted for anxiety, shortness of breath or chest pains. There is no word on the current state of their conditions.

United Airlines issued the following statement in response to the incident:

United flight 1031 experienced turbulence while en route from Panama City, Panama to Houston. Paramedics met the aircraft to provide medical care and initial reports are that nine customers and one crew member were transported to the hospital for evaluation. Our thoughts and concerns are with those who were injured and our team is reaching out directly to our customers to provide further care and support.

Houston Airport System confirms that no other airport operations were interrupted as a result of the incident. 

CBS News reports that in 2016, 44 total passengers and crew members suffered turbulence severe enough that their resultant injuries were reported to the FAA. In one particularly notable incident, a flight from Moscow to Bangkok hit severe turbulence, injuring 27. Of those, 15 were hospitalized, but none had life-threatening injuries. All of those injured were not wearing a seatbelt when the plane hit the turbulence. 

Sources: Daily Mail, KTRK, CBS News / Photo Credit: Tomas Del Coro/Flickr

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