Air Europa Flight Hits Severe Turbulence, Four People in ICU

At least two dozen people were hurt on Monday’s Air Europa trip from Spain to Uruguay due to extreme turbulence; some of them had neck and skull fractures. Globally, this is the second instance of severe injuries caused by turbulence in less than a month, according to officials.

According to flight data, more than four hours into the journey from Madrid, Flight UX045 encountered turbulence and made an emergency landing in the beach city of Natal, Brazil, early Monday.

Brazilian public health authorities said that several passengers sustained injuries to the head, neck, and chest after striking their heads during the turbulent flight. Health and airport officials said that 36 people were treated for injuries, with 23 being sent to a hospital.

According to authorities, several of the treated passengers were experiencing shock rather than actual injuries. Officials said that four passengers were in critical care as of Monday evening, out of a total of five people remaining hospitalized.

Some individuals were seen flying across the cabin. Two female passengers said that an individual flew out of their seat and became stuck in the ceiling of the aircraft.

Two videos that surfaced online seemed to capture two passengers assisting a man who was lying near or over the plane’s overhead bins. Other media showed damaged chairs and ceiling panels.

Evangelina Saravia, a passenger from Uruguay, said a baby had to be pulled down from the space where the plastic ceiling met the metal roof.

The man who became stuck in the ceiling was seated close to Romina Apai. She said that people fell on top of seats on top of other people as the jet leveled off.

Very few turbulence incidents result in such severe casualties. According to the Federal Aviation Administration, from 2009 to 2022, the number of significant injuries caused by aviation turbulence in the US was a mere 163.

A passenger, 73, on a June aircraft with Singapore Airlines, died when the plane plummeted 6,000 feet in a matter of minutes. Injuries were sustained by an additional 70 passengers on board.

Turbulence is rather widespread and usually poses little threat. It may produce abrupt variations in an airplane’s speed and altitude and is typically caused by changes in the speed and direction of the wind, such as during storms or jet streams.