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‘Rebirth’ in air after close shave for plane

Kochi, April 25 (PTI): Over 350 passengers and crew of a Kochi-bound Emirates flight from Dubai had a narrow escape today when the plane encountered severe turbulence over Bangalore, resulting in injuries to at least 20 people on board.

“Oxygen masks came down,” a passenger, who was travelling with his family, said after the plane landed at the international airport here. “We all got scared. This is like a rebirth. Many passengers fell down from their seats.”

The Directorate-General of Civil Aviation has launched a probe into the incident that occurred around 8.50 this morning and grounded the aircraft.

“An inquiry has been ordered into the incident. The DGCA is carrying out air safety investigation. The aircraft will leave the country only after it is certified,” the director-general of civil aviation, Nasim Zaidi, said in New Delhi.

He said officials had started recording the statements of the injured, cabin crew and pilots.

The UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) described the incident as “serious” and said it, too, had launched an investigation and was co-ordinating with the Indian authorities.

The GCAA said 23 people, including three crew members, were injured, though the airline put the number at 20.

Most of the passengers were in a “state of shock and looked worried”, airport sources said.

The Boeing EK530 with 350 passengers and 14 crew members encountered a weather cloud at 35,000 feet over the Bangalore region. A short period of heavy turbulence prior to descent caused minor injuries to about 20 persons, including a child, Emirates said in a statement. The drop in altitude was minor — a descent of 200ft — and the aircraft landed safely, it added.

The airport sources said the pilots requested medical assistance while landing. One passenger, Biju Thomas, 40, has been admitted to hospital with a shoulder dislocation.

The sources said a doctor went inside the aircraft to give first aid to the injured passengers. One person received stitches for an eyebrow injury while another suffered a scalp wound. A pregnant woman complained of giddiness.

Most of the passengers were discharged, another doctor on duty said.

The flight’s return journey has been cancelled. Another aircraft will take the passengers, the airline said.

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