Panic ensued among the passengers onboard the SpiceJet SG 945 flight operating from Mumbai after being caught in a Nor’wester (a common storm during the summer months on the east coast of India) while descending at the Kazi Nazrul Islam Airport in Durgapur city.
Pieces of luggage toppled down from the overhead bins, injuring several passengers. Videos captured from inside the flight showed injured people, visibly petrified, strapped onto their seats while cups, water bottles and other belongings remained scattered across the floor.
A light fixture had come loose and was hanging from the ceiling even as cabin crew tried to reassure those on board.
However, the flight with 188 passengers on board managed to land safely and the injured were rushed to a local hospital. All injured passengers are now out of danger and in a stable condition.
One of the passengers said the flight faced three strong jerks while landing, which felt similar to that of a car hitting a bumper. “We had seat belts on. The belts tore on impact. We jounced on our seats,” India Today quoted the traveller as saying.
Vishal K Patel, who said he was on the flight, added that “it was a nightmare”.
“Luckily most of the people behaved well in crisis and were fortunate to survive,” he said.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation, which regulates India’s civil aviation sector, ordered an investigation into the incident on Monday.
“Some of the passengers sustained head injuries and received stitches, while one passenger said he suffered a spinal injury in the mishap. We are deputing teams for regulatory investigation, while medical reports of the injured passengers are awaited,” officials from the regulatory body said, according to NDTV.
Meanwhile, the airline issued a statement expressing regret over the terrifying experience.
“On 1 May, SpiceJet Boeing B737 aircraft operating flight SG-945 from Mumbai to Durgapur encountered severe turbulence during descent which unfortunately resulted in injuries to a few passengers. Immediate medical assistance was provided upon the aircraft’s arrival in Durgapur,” it said.
Last month, a SpiceJet aircraft hit a pole at the Delhi airport during pushback, damaging its wings.
Following the incident, the pilots, an aircraft maintenance engineer, wing walkers and push back operators were de-rostered pending investigation.