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Shannon emergency: Turbulence 'like a torpedo'

The Boeing 767-300 aircraft at Shannon Airport in County Clare after making an emergency landing this morning Image copyright RTÉ
Image caption The Boeing 767-300 diverted to Shannon Airport in County Clare after the transatlantic turbulence

A plane that was diverted to the Republic of Ireland due to severe turbulence felt as if it had been torpedoed, according to one of its passengers.

The United Airlines flight from Houston, Texas, to London made an emergency landing in Shannon Airport in County Clare. Twelve people were injured.

Ten passengers and two crew members were taken to University Hospital Limerick, with cuts, bruises and minor head injuries.

John Dunton-Downer said: "Everybody was screaming out, like they were preparing for the worst."

He told BBC Radio Foyle that they had been in the air for about five and half hours when the turbulence hit.

'Slapped from the top'

"We were right in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and it came from absolutely nowhere," he said.

"Usually when there's a bit of turbulence you get that pinging where a sign comes on and they say, 'The captain has turned on the fasten seatbelt sign, please put on your seatbelt.'

"This was nothing like that. We were flying along as smooth as can be and then were just slapped massively from the top as if someone had just torpedoed us."

Image caption Turbulence is essentially a rough patch caused by wind

"I had my window shade open and I could just see flashes of lightning all around us," said Mr Dunton-Downer.

"The whole thing probably was between 10 and 15 seconds but it felt like we got hit really hard from one side and then punched from the other.

"I saw a flight attendant covered in blood from her head and scalp down across all of her front. Another one's wrist I heard was broken - I saw her in a cast."

Mr Dunton-Downer said he heard reports from other passengers of children being "slammed into the ceiling".

Overall, he said, he was just extremely glad to be alive.

"As I was preparing myself for the worst, the screaming kicked in. There's a certain moment where you give up hope. I was thinking, 'So this is it?'

"I just feel so extremely glad to be alive. When you think about what I was preparing for, it's just so great to be here," he said.

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