Eyewitnesses have described harrowing turbulence aboard an Air Canada flight diverted to Calgary on Wednesday (30 December), in which 21 passengers were injured. The turbulence forced Air Canada Flight 88, headed from Shanghai to Toronto, to land in Calgary so that injured passengers could be treated.
EMS spokesman Stuart Brideaux said: "When we arrived we assessed a total of 25 passengers aboard the aircraft; we have ultimately transported a total of 21 passengers to area hospitals. All of them are non-life threatening conditions at this time, however approximately seven of those patients, all adults, did sustain possible musculoskeletal injuries or neck and back injuries. But at this time it's all believed to be non-life threatening."
Yi Lee, who was on the flight, said the turbulence was unsettling. "To start with it was just okay, normal, just up and down, and all of a sudden it was really violent and just shaking everybody off. And you can see all the blankets...most of the people, their blankets just flew away," he said.
"Just like suddenly the flight is just going down and everything is really scary. The girl sitting next to me was sleeping and she just flew up," said another passenger, Linda He.
Passenger Connie Gelber told the Calgary Herald the journey was a "flight from hell." She said the passenger beside her was thrown from her seat during the turbulence.
But other passengers took the incident in their stride. "It was a little scary, but I'll be honest, all of the crew were very professional, they handled themselves really well, everyone stayed calm," said Gord Murray. "It could have been much worse."
According to CTV News, eight passengers had been taken away on stretchers. Emergency and airport officials later said emergency responders assessed 25 passengers, and three children were taken to hospital. None of the injuries were life-threatening, reported the Calgary Herald.
Two investigators have been sent by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada to review the contents in the black box and interview Air Canada employees to determine the cause of the injuries. The passengers who were not injured were booked onto other flights to continue their journeys.