MONTREAL • Shocked passengers were tossed around an Air Canada passenger jet as it hit a pocket of turbulence on its way to Australia on Thursday and was forced to make an emergency landing.
Flight AC33 from Vancouver to Sydney encountered trouble about two hours beyond Hawaii and diverted back to the US island chain's capital Honolulu, the company said in a statement.
The Boeing 777-200 landed "normally" at 6.45am, the statement went on, adding that "approximately 35 people appear to have sustained minor injuries". Passenger Jess Smith told the Hawaii television station KHON that "we all hit the roof, and everything fell down... people went flying".
The aircraft suddenly dropped, and "some people that weren't strapped in, you saw them rise in the air and hit their heads on the roof... it was quite intense", another traveller, Fais Asad, told KHON.
A spokesman from the Federal Aviation Administration was quoted by Canadian broadcaster CBC as saying the incident took place at a height of 10,972m, about 966km south-west of Honolulu.
The aircraft was carrying 269 passengers and 15 crew members.
The passengers were taken to hospital and nine of them suffered "serious" injuries, local media reported, citing Hawaiian officials.
All passengers except one had left the hospital, while the remaining person was also expected to be released, a spokesman for Air Canada said later on Thursday.
Separately, Nepal's only international airport was closed yesterday after a plane skidded off the recently repaired runway, injuring two people, officials said.
The country has a poor flight safety record - Nepali airlines are banned from European Union airspace - and its airports are notoriously difficult to land in.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS