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Terrifying ‘Technical Problem’ on Flight Leaves Around 50 Injured

Anna Zvereva/Wikimedia Commons
Anna Zvereva/Wikimedia Commons

About 50 people required medical treatment at an airport in New Zealand on Monday after a “technical problem” during an inbound flight caused a plane to suddenly drop, throwing passengers and crew into the ceiling of the cabin.

Chilean airline LATAM’s flight LA800 between Sydney, Australia, and Auckland was met by a large emergency response, including seven ambulances, when it finally landed at Auckland International Airport. A total of 12 people—including one in a serious condition—were taken to hospitals for treatment, according to Hato Hone St John, a New Zealand ambulance charity.

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With about an hour remaining of the flight, the 8-year-old Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner plunged without warning. “The plane dipped so dramatically into a nose dive for a couple of seconds and around 30 people hit the ceiling hard,” one passenger told The New Zealand Herald. Another person on board said he’d fallen asleep with his seatbelt on and woke during the plunge and saw what happened to a man sitting two seats away from him who hadn’t been buckled in.

“I thought I was dreaming. I opened my eyes and he was on the roof of the plane on his back, looking down on me,” passenger Brian Jokat told Radio New Zealand. “It was like The Exorcist.” He added that the man then fell to the cabin floor, breaking his ribs on an arm rest on the way down.

In a statement, LATAM said the plane experienced a “technical problem during the flight which caused a strong movement.” The airline also apologized for the “inconvenience and injury” the incident caused.

Passengers were scheduled to board a connecting flight from New Zealand to Santiago, Chile, later on Monday. That flight has been rescheduled for Tuesday and LATAM is providing food and accommodation for affected travelers in the meantime.

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