A Continental Airlines jet carrying 179 people from Brazil to Texas hit severe turbulence over the Atlantic early Monday, injuring at least 26 – including four seriously – and forcing an emergency landing in Miami, officials said.
One passenger said he felt Continental Flight 128 drop without warning while flight attendants were in the aisles, throwing some of them against the roof.
Houston-based Continental said there were 168 people and 11 crew on the Boeing 767. The airline released a statement that said the fasten seat belt sign was illuminated at the time and that about 28 passengers were treated in Miami.
Miami-Dade Fire Rescue spokesman Elkin Sierra said four people were seriously injured aboard the Boeing 767 and another 22 were in stable condition with bumps and bruises. A total of 13 people were taken to hospitals.
“…some flight attendants were thrown against the roof of the cabin and may have been among those injured.”
The plane was on a night flight from Rio de Janeiro to Houston. Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said the turbulence struck about halfway between Puerto Rico and Grand Turk island, north of the Dominican Republic.
The plane reported hitting severe turbulence at 4:30 a.m. and landed safely at 5:30 a.m, at Miami International Airport Bergen said.
Passenger Fabio Ottolini of Houston said it was about 6 hours into the flight when he felt the aircraft suddenly drop.
“People didn’t have time to do anything,” he said.
Ottolini said flight attendants were serving items in the aisles when the turbulence hit. He said some flight attendants were thrown against the roof of the cabin and may have been among those injured.