Dozens injured by turbulence on flight diverted to Brazil

An Air Europa flight bound for Uruguay made an emergency landing in Brazil on Monday after at least 30 people were injured by “strong turbulence.”

Flight UX045 was flying from Madrid to Montevideo when it hit turbulence over the Atlantic close to the Brazilian coast. It was then diverted to the city of Natal in northeastern Brazil. 

Some passengers were flung to the ceiling, with one video from aboard the aircraft showing a passenger being pulled out of an overhead luggage bin.

The Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner carrying more than 300 passengers was received by 15 ambulances standing by the runway, authorities said.

Ambulances next to an Air Europa Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner after it made an emergency landing in Natal, in northern Brazil, on July 1, 2024, after hitting strong turbulence on its way from Madrid to Montevideo.
An Air Europa flight from Madrid to Montevideo was diverted to northeastern Brazil on Monday after hitting turbulence that injured dozens.Claudio Fernandez Arbes / AFP – Getty Images

Most of the injured were taken to the Monsenhor Walfredo Gurgel Hospital in Natal, the government of the surrounding state of Rio Grande do Norte said Monday in a post on X.

A separate plane then took off from Madrid on Monday afternoon to finish flying the passengers to Uruguay, the Spanish airline said in a post on X, adding that they would first be transported south to the city of Recife as Natal is not an Air Europa destination.

At least seven people were injured Monday during the flight prompting an emergency landing in Brazil, the airline said. The plane, with 325 people on board, was diverted in the early morning hours to the airport of Natal in northeastern Brazil on its way to the Uruguayan capital, the Spanish company said.
Damage to the inside of the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner after it was hit by turbulence. Claudio Fernandez Arbes / AFP – Getty Images

The incident comes weeks after a Singapore Airlines flight was hit by severe turbulence on its way from London to Singapore, leaving one man dead and dozens of others injured.

Officials said the passenger who died, a 73-year-old from Britain, may have suffered cardiac arrest.

While such deaths are rare, researchers warn that climate change may be causing more extreme cases of turbulence, most likely due to its effect on wind speeds in the upper levels of the atmosphere.

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