China Eastern turbulence incident like a Hollywood disaster scene, says terrified mother
Woman, 32, held her baby desperately as passengers cried in fear and pain
A Chinese mother on board a China Eastern flight that hit severe turbulence en route from Paris to Kunming has compared the terror and chaos of the incident to a “Hollywood disaster scene”.
The 32-year-old woman, who was not named, told of seeing other passengers bleeding and crying out in pain from their injuries while she clutched her infant tightly in her arms, news portal Thepaper.cn reported.
Flight MU774 encountered two patches of heavy turbulence each lasting about 10 minutes early on Sunday morning, Xinhua reported.
About 50 people were sent to hospital after the flight landed safely in Kunming at about 9am on Sunday, more than an hour after its scheduled arrival.
Seventeen of the injured were admitted and 22 were placed under observation, state broadcaster CCTV reported.
The victims included a 77-year-old woman with a cervical spine injury, a 69-year-old man with an injured neck and a 43-year-old woman with a lacerated scalp.
The young mother, who was being treated at the Yunnan First People’s Hospital in Kunming, told Thepaper.cn that the plane struck turbulence at about 3am.
She recalled being thrown into the aisle while holding her seven-month-old daughter, whose head bumped against the overhead luggage compartment.
She instinctively wrapped her arms around the baby as the aircraft struck the second wave of turbulence. “At the time I thought that even if my own life was gone, I had to make sure my baby was safe. It was like a Hollywood disaster scene,” the Kunming native was quoted as saying.
The woman, who said she was unable to fasten her seat belt when the turbulence began, recalled seeing other passengers bleeding, crying from injuries and searching for their belongings after the incident. Witnesses also reported seeing flight attendants crying after the incident.
China Eastern said in a statement on its Sina Weibo microblog that “some passengers on the flight experienced discomfort” from air turbulence and that medical services were arranged for affected passengers. The airline did not clarify the reasons for the turbulence nor the extent of passengers’ injuries.
“China Eastern Airlines again reminds passengers, for their safety, to fasten their seat belts for the duration of the flight,” the airline said in its statement.
Hangzhou news outlet City Express reported that the captain of the flight had 17 years of flying experience.
A China Eastern Airbus A330 bound for Shanghai was forced to return to Sydney Airport earlier this month when it developed an engine problem shortly after take off.
Photos circulated online showing a large rip in the casing of one the engines. The airline said it was investigating the incident.