Dozens of people on an Air Canada flight to Australia have been injured after the plane encountered unexpected turbulence, forcing it to land in Hawaii.
The flight from Vancouver to Sydney encountered “unforecasted and sudden turbulence” about two hours past Hawaii and diverted to Honolulu, according to an Air Canada spokeswoman, Angela Mah.
“Current information indicates there are approximately 35 people who appear to have sustained minor injuries,” Mah said.
Emergency responders met the plane at the gate. A spokeswoman for the Honolulu emergency services department was not able to immediately provide details about the passengers’ injuries.
Passengers told reporters the turbulence had tossed people into the air, some hitting the ceiling. “We hit turbulence and we all hit the roof and everything fell down, and stuff … people went flying,” Jess Smith told CBC News.
Another passenger, Alex MacDonald, said: “I watched a whole bunch of people hit the ceiling of the plane. A couple of the air hostesses were bringing food out at the time, and they hit the roof as well. But as a whole people seem to be OK; didn’t seem to be any major injuries.”
Luke Wheeldon told the Honolulu news station KTIV about half the passengers had not been wearing seatbelts.
“There was no warning and then half of them, their head hit the roof all at once,” he said. “And I went, ‘Oh, this is a bad day.’”
The turbulence happened at 36,000 feet (10,973 metres), about 1,000km south-west of Honolulu, the US Federal Aviation Administration said. Its spokesman said crew members had asked for medical personnel to meet the plane at the gate.
The Boeing 777-200 was carrying 269 passengers and 15 crew members.
Air Canada was arranging hotel accommodation and meals in Honolulu and options for resuming the flight, Mah said.