NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Five flight attendants were injured Thursday when a flight headed for Beijing had to return to Newark Liberty International Airport due to heavy turbulence.
United Airlines Flight 89 left the airport around 2:30 p.m., officials told CBS 2. As CBS 2’s Tracee Carrasco reported, the Boeing 777-200 was carrying 189 passengers.
The flight had to return about an hour later.
“It happened, like, really fast. You know, the plane lost a little bit of altitude. The plane started to shake, and it really came out of nowhere,” said passenger Bryan Munoz.
Munoz shot cell phone video from his window seat of the shaky plane. He said flight attendants were walking around preparing to serve a meal when the turbulence hit — giving them little time to brace for the impact.
“Obviously, the pilot did warn the flight attend and also the passengers that we would be experiencing, you know, some turbulence — but we didn’t expect that it would be this bad,” Munoz said.
Officials released the communication between the pilot and air traffic controllers at the airport.
“You’re going to be following an emergency from the northeast,” the air traffic controller said. “We’re going to have to (garbled) about this.”
Five flight attendants suffered minor injuries, officials said.
“Some rescue people go into the airplane, then he sit her on a wheelchair to push her out,” Dong Li told WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell of one of the injuries.
Dong said the plane dropped sharply before the pilot announced they were turning around.
“I feel a little bit nervous,” he said after landing. “The bumping is very hard.
United issued a statement saying: “United flight 89 from Newark to Beijing returned to Newark today after encountering turbulence while in flight. The aircraft landed safely in Newark with 189 passengers and 16 crew members on board. Five crew members sustained injuries. Our team in Newark is reviewing the event.”
United said it will accommodate passengers on a flight Friday morning.
The airline has offered hotels in Newark for the evening.
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