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Reminder to always keep your belt on when flying - Air Europa plane diverts to Brazil after severe turbulence injures dozens

About 40 passengers taken to hospitals after flight from Madrid to Montevideo forced to make emergency landing

Incidents of severe turbulence increased by 55% between 1979 and 2020, they found, owing to changes in wind velocity at high altitudes.

An Air Europa flight from Madrid to Montevideo has been forced to make an emergency landing at a Brazilian airport due to “severe turbulence”, the airline said.

About 40 passengers, mostly with minor injuries, were taken to hospitals in Natal, the capital of Rio Grande do Norte state after the plane was diverted early on Monday.

News website G1 reported the some passengers suffered fractures and others hit their heads during the turbulence. At least four of them were still in hospital on Monday afternoon.

The Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner left Madrid at 11.57pm on Sunday carrying 325 people, and was scheduled to arrive in the Uruguayan capital of Montevideo early on Monday.

At 2.32am, Flight UX045 requested an emergency landing at Natal airport in north-eastern Brazil – 4,000km from Montevideo – according to its operator, Zurich Airport Brazil.

There were “injured passengers of varying severity”, the airline said.

The state’s public health department said that 40 passengers – from Spain, Uruguay, Israel, Germany and Bolivia – were treated in state-run hospitals.

Most of them were discharged after receiving medical attention.

Four were “stable” at Monsenhor Walfredo Gurgel hospital, where they were waiting for test results before being discharged. Five others were taken to private hospitals.

A user on the social media platform X, who claimed to have been on the flight, posted pictures of broken ceiling panels, with pipes and wires exposed.

At 1.12pm, Air Europa reported that the passengers who had not been injured were being transferred to Recife – capital of Pernambuco’s state, 255km from Natal – “where they will be accommodated and then travel to Montevideo”.

What causes air turbulence and is the climate crisis making it worse?

Read more

In May, a 73-year-old British man died and several other passengers and crew suffered skull, brain and spine injuries when a Singapore Airlines flight from London to Singapore was hit by turbulence and was forced to make an emergency landing in Bangkok.

A week later, eight people were taken to hospital after turbulence during a Qatar Airways flight from Doha to Ireland.

Scientists say that clear air turbulence, which is invisible to radar, is getting worse because of the climate crisis.

Research by Reading University has shown that higher temperatures resulting from the climate crisis were leading to significant increases in turbulence across transatlantic flights.

Incidents of severe turbulence increased by 55% between 1979 and 2020, they found, owing to changes in wind velocity at high altitudes.

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