BANGKOK/MOSCOW (REUTERS, AFP) – At least 27 people were injured on an Aeroflot flight from Moscow to Bangkok on Monday (May 1) when their Boeing 777 hit an air pocket.
The terrifying ordeal occurred when the plane flew through a pocket of “clean air” turbulence – so-called because there is no cloud warning of its presence – shortly before landing in Bangkok after midnight, the airline said.
Mr Denis Antonyuk, an official at Russia’s embassy in Bangkok said 24 Russian nationals and three Thais were injured.
“Fifteen Russians and two Thais are still in hospital,” he told AFP, adding the rest had been discharged.
The Russian airline said in an earlier statement that several passengers had been injured during “severe turbulence” 40 minutes before landing in the Thai capital.
It said the crew was unable to warn passengers of the approaching danger as the turbulence occurred in a clear sky.
“All the injured were sent to a local hospital with injuries of a different kind of severity, mainly fractures and bruises,” the embassy said. “The reasons behind the injures was that some of the passengers had not had their seat belts fastened.”
Passenger phone footage broadcast by Rossiya 24 state television channel showed a scene of chaos inside the cabin, with injured passengers on the floor, smears of blood on luggage racks and oxygen masks hanging down.
“We were hurled up into the roof of the plane, it was practically impossible to hold on,” a passenger who gave her first name Yevgenia, told Rossiya 24 by phone. “It felt like the shaking wouldn’t stop, that we would just crash."
Thailand has become a very popular destination for sun-seeking Russian tourists with dozens of flights a day from across the country. Numbers dropped off a few years back when the rouble weakened but they have since bounced back.
Last year, just over one million Russians visited the country, most flocking to the southern beach resorts. Early May is an especially popular time of the year for Russians to head abroad with two public holidays in the first two weeks of the month.