Turbulent skies: Coach's moment of terror in the air

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR / ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A water polo coach described his "fear of death" experience as the plane he was travelling in from Taiwan plunged in turbulent weather on Thursday (May 4).

"No pre-warnings on seat belt. Heavy sound from the outside, sudden drop (of flight altitude) for eight seconds," Vinod Salwam, 27, said on his Facebook.

"I hear people screaming and crying. Saw people on either side of me, hit the ceiling and dropping back to the seats," he said.

Vinod wrote that the 2am incident left him with "fear of death at 2am flying in the plane 36,000 feet above sea level."

He was among 291 passengers and 11 crew on board AirAsia X flight from Taipei that encountered severe turbulence, leaving five passengers injured.

He said he was flying back with 20 members, including parents of teenagers, of his water polo team, after participating in the Taipei International Waterpolo Tournament.

"The pilot did not expect the climate change and the change made the turbulence stronger.

"The situation was intense. The plane sprints to lift (climb) the plane and it manages to be stable for few seconds and then drops again.

"After few minutes (a member of the) cabin crew ran out to check if everything was okay. His arm was injured.

"The rest (of the crew) were putting back fallen bags. They were checking for injuries.

"Three passengers were injured badly and the rest with minor injuries and cuts," he said.

Vinod added that all the passengers onboard the A330 aircraft were cheering and clapping when the pilot announced that the plane had landed safely at KL International Airport 2.

In a statement, the airline said Flight D7377 with 291 passengers and 11 crew members on board, encountered the turbulence mid-flight on Thursday.

“The aircraft landed safely at KLIA2 at 4.30pm.

“Five injured passengers were treated by paramedics at the airport upon landing.

“All other passengers were attended to by the ground staff and given necessary assistance,” it said.