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Air Europa Flight Diverted to Brazil After Severe Turbulence, Injuring 40 Passengers

On July 1, 2024, an Air Europa flight from Madrid, Spain, to Montevideo, Uruguay, experienced severe turbulence leading to an emergency diversion to Natal International Airport in Brazil. The incident resulted in injuries to 40 passengers.

Air Europa Flight Diverted to Brazil After Severe Turbulence, Injuring 40 Passengers

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Air Europa Flight UX045 was en route from Madrid-Barajas Airport to Carrasco International Airport in Montevideo, Uruguay.

The Air Europa flight was operated using a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, which has a passenger capacity of 339. The plane was carrying 325 passengers at the time of the incident.

The turbulence occurred early in the morning when the flight was near the Brazilian coast. Passengers reported a sudden destabilization of the aircraft.

Those not wearing seat belts were thrown into the air with some hitting the cabin ceiling. Of the 40 injured, 30 received immediate medical attention at the airport, while 10 required hospital treatment for more severe injuries including cranial fractures and cuts to the face.

Due to the severity of the turbulence and the number of injuries, the flight was diverted to Natal International Airport in São Gonçalo do Amarante, Brazil, the closest airport with the necessary medical facilities.

The Air Europa plane requested an emergency landing at around 2:32 a.m. local time. Upon landing, the aircraft was met by a fleet of ambulances. Airport and medical officials provided assistance to the injured passengers.

Videos and photos shared by passengers on social media depicted damage within the cabin including broken seats, dangling overhead wires and personal items scattered throughout.

Several passengers were seen wearing neck braces and lying in the aisle. One video even showed a man dangling from an overhead compartment though it remains unclear how he ended up there.

The Air Europa confirmed the diversion and highlighted the priority given to passenger safety. They stated that seven individuals sustained varying degrees of injuries and mentioned an undetermined number of minor contusions.

Natal International Airport officials confirmed the medical treatment provided to the injured passengers and the another transport of 10 individuals to local hospitals for further examination.

The passengers were moved to Recife, Brazil. Air Europa arranged for another aircraft to depart from Madrid on the same day to pick up the stranded passengers and continue their journey to Montevideo.

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The turbulence made the flight to divert to Natal, a city in northeastern Brazil. The plane landed at 2:32 AM local time.

Upon landing, 15 ambulances were on standby to assist the injured passengers who were transported to local hospitals and clinics for treatment.

Forty passengers were initially taken to hospitals for treatment of abrasions, cuts and cranial fractures. By the afternoon, eleven individuals remained hospitalized.

Injuries ranged from minor abrasions to severe traumas including head, neck and chest injuries. One passenger was reportedly stuck in an overhead luggage bin and another sustained cranial fractures.

Those not wearing seatbelts were flung into the air, some hitting the ceiling and sustaining injuries. Social media posts from passengers showed the damage inside the cabin including broken ceiling panels and exposed wires.

Air Europa dispatched another plane from Madrid to transport the passengers to Uruguay. The injured passengers were first taken to Recife, Brazil, as Natal is not a regular destination for the airline.

The stricken Boeing 787-9 was held in Natal for inspection to assess any structural damage caused by the turbulence.

This incident follows a pattern of turbulence-related emergencies in recent months including an incident involving a Singapore Airlines flight and another turbulence event on a Qatar Airways flight.

Researchers have noted an increase in severe clear air turbulence with the frequency rising by 17% from 1979 to 2020. The most severe cases have increased by over 50%.

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