A dozen passengers were hurt after being flung around the cabin amid extreme turbulence on an Aerolneas Argentinas trip from Spain to Buenos Aires, including a woman who probably smashed her nose when she banged into the ceiling.
Flight AR1133, an Airbus A330 carrying 284 passengers, was roughly seven hours into its 12-hour journey from Madrid on Tuesday when all hell broke loose at 38,000 feet off the coast of Brazil, according to The US Sun.
The majority of the 271 passengers were sleeping when the chaos erupted, with those who were unbuckled flying along with their baggage and anything else that wasn’t secured.
Images released online show the aisle and galley filled with trash, as well as a woman sitting with a bandage on her bleeding nose.
The airline said in a statement that the cabin was damaged “due to the contact of the passengers’ heads with the ceiling,” according to the Independent.
According to the firm, 12 passengers were injured, with nine of them receiving treatment from airport medical officials in Buenos Aires and three others being evacuated to a hospital.
It went on to say that an announcement about anticipated turbulence had been made and that seat belt signs had been put on, but that some passengers had ignored the warning.
“The passengers who were the most compromised and who were the ones who had to be transferred did not have their seat belts on at the time of the turbulence,” according to the statement cited by the news outlet.
But one passenger disputed the airline’s statement and insisted the seat belt signs were not turned on before the bone-rattling incident.
“We had been flying for about seven hours and we were almost all asleep because at that time in Spain it would be close to three,” Adrián Torres told Spanish-language El Pais, according to the Independent.
“The plane began to move a lot and I tell my colleagues, ‘There’s a lot of turbulence, buckle up,’” he said. “I looked at the little sign to see if the light to fasten the seat belt was on and I see that it is not, but I was going to put it on anyway.
“While I was looking for it, the plane caught the biggest turbulence, I don’t know how many meters but it suddenly went down and we shot towards the ceiling,” he added.
On Twitter, the Spanish passenger described the last few hours of the flight as “a f—-ing nightmare.”
“In the official statement they say that the lights were on, this is a huge lie. What helplessness,” Torres wrote.
“I have a small bruise, but another colleague was paralyzed for three minutes and another broke the septum of her nose,” he told El Pais. “Nobody went back to sleep and that there were another seven hours left. I was scared and I had a hard time with every slight movement.”
The woman who injured her nose agreed with Torres’ version of events.
“I have been one of the most affected and possibly have a broken septum,” Esperanza Borrás wrote on Twitter.
“I hit my head on the ceiling and broke it [the ceiling panel]. Yes, I had my belt on at 7 o’clock and just when I took it off it happened, but THERE WAS NO NOTICE,” she added.