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Korean flight drops rapidly from 30,000 to 9,000 ft after malfunction; passengers suffer nosebleeds, ear pain

The Korean Air Flight took off on Saturday towards Taichung, when a malfunction in the cabin pressurisation system caused the plane to descend rapidly. As a result, passengers experienced discomfort, including nosebleeds and ear pain, and 13 were hospitalised.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Seoul Published on: June 24, 2024 16:34 IST
Representational Image
Image Source : AP Representational Image

Seoul: At least 13 passengers were hospitalised after a Korean Air flight was forced to make an emergency landing at the Incheon International Airport in South Korea following a malfunction with the plane's cabin pressurisation system. The malfunction caused the Boeing 737 Max 8 to rapidly descend from an altitude of over 30,000 feet to 9,000 feet in a manner of seconds.

According to Yonhap news agency, the plane was bound towards Taiwan's central city of Taichung when it suffered a malfunction in the system responsible for regulating the internal pressure of an aircraft. As a result, the rapid descent caused severe discomfort for passengers, with two of them suffering nosebleeds due to sudden pressure change, Dimsum Daily reported.

According to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, 15 passengers suffered from eardrum pain and hyperventilation during the descent. Among them, 13 were taken to a hospital. Fortunately, no serious injuries have been reported. The flight, identified as KE189, was carrying 125 passengers and safely landed back at Incheon on Saturday evening.

Recalling her experience, a Taiwanese female passenger said the plane suddenly dropped shortly after the meal service, causing intense turbulence inside the cabin, equivalent to a "rollercoaster ride". The passenger suffered severe pain in her ears and head, feeling dizziness, while children on board began crying. The cabin crew swiftly attended to the situation, securing the meal service and distributing oxygen masks. 

Korean Air later issued an apology regarding the incident and said it was investigating the specifics of the flight’s return to ensure necessary maintenance measures are taken. Another flight was arranged on Sunday approximately 19 hours later than the original schedule, to accommodate the passengers.

In a separate case, a Hyderabad-Kuala Lumpur Malaysia Airlines flight that took off during the wee hours of Thursday from Rajiv Gandhi International Airport made a turnaround after the pilot noticed a technical snag in the engine in mid-air. According to the airport sources, Flight MH 199 carrying 138 passengers took off at 12.45 am but landed back after some time due to technical reasons. Prior to that, an Air Canada Boeing Flight AC872 bound for Paris experienced a mid-air fire shortly after taking off from Toronto Pearson Airport on the evening of June 5.

ALSO READ | US: Twin-engine Cessna airplane crashes in Colorado's residential area, no survivors found

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