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Severe turbulence injures 40 people on Air Europa flight

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Credit: Mariela Jodal

An Air Europa flight from Spain to Uruguay was diverted to Brazil after hitting severe turbulence over the Atlantic, according to passengers and airline officials. At least 40 people were treated for injuries.

Flight 45, a Boeing 787 Dreamliner with 325 passengers on board, was flying from Madrid to Montevideo on early Monday morning when it was hit by severe turbulence over the Atlantic Ocean.

The crew declared an emergency and diverted to Natal International Airport in eastern Brazil, where the plane was met by emergency services.

At least 40 people were injured, most of whom hit their head and suffered cervical fractures, facial injuries and chest pain, according to the state’s health department. More than 10 people were hospitalized.

“Natal was the airport that could serve passengers with medical needs the fastest,” Air Europa said in a statement. It said passengers would be taken to the Brazilian city of Recife, from where they’ll continue their journey to Montevideo.

Monday’s incident came just weeks after a Singapore Airlines plane was hit by sudden and severe turbulence while flying from London to Singapore, killing one passenger and injuring more than 100 others.

Turbulence brings about rapid bumps or jolts, which can cause a plane to momentarily lose control in severe cases. It often happens near thunderstorms but it can also happen in clear air when air masses with different speeds, directions or temperatures meet.

Due to the risk of sudden turbulence, passengers are typically advised to keep their seatbelt on throughout the flight, even when it’s not mandatory.

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