Passengers on a transatlantic flight to London have described the terrifying moment the plane hit severe turbulence, leaving more than a dozen people needing medical treatment.
The United Airlines flight from Houston, Texas, was on its was to Heathrow Airport when it had to make an emergency landing at Shannon Airport, Ireland.
Some 16 people were treated by medics in Ireland after the aircraft hit unexpected and severe turbulence hundreds of miles from shore, around 3am.
Passenger Nikki Hartin Boriack said in a post on Facebook that people were “flying through the plane” and that she tried to hold down a girl in the seat next to her.
Boriack said that there were lots of small children on the flight and that one of the flight attendants required stitches.
She said: “Flight diverted to Shannon, major turbulence.
“The flight attendant I helped said she had never experienced anything like it in 20 years. She had a cut head, a few people had broken bones.
“All in all about 25 people are injured. I know I don’t know these people, but please pray for them.”
Leslie Chi, who was also on the flight, said that she feared for her life during the turbulence.
She wrote on Facebook: “Really felt I might die but fine now, just so tired.”
The US airline said that 10 passengers and two flight attendants were taken to University Hospital Limerick and all were discharged except for one flight attendant who received further treatment.
“United Airlines is providing care and support to customers and crew of flight UA880 which experienced severe and unexpected turbulence during a flight from Houston to London Heathrow,” a spokesman for the airline said.
It is understood other passengers were assessed by paramedics and ambulance crews which met the plane on the runway after it landed at 5.55am.
The plane was in the air for two and a half hours after the incident occurred over the Atlantic. The alarm was raised with Irish air traffic control staff at 3.20am.
There were 207 passengers on the Boeing 767-300 and 13 crew including three pilots.
Most of them remained at Shannon Airport until another plane was arranged to fly them on the final stretch of the journey to Heathrow shortly after midday.
The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) said the incident would be investigated, the Press Association reports.