India’s budget airlines SpiceJet is being scrutinized by the government after severe turbulence injured at least 15 people, CNN reported citing News18.
Videos of the aftermath from the turbulence were shared widely by social media users, where injured passengers could be seen bleeding, oxygen masks dangling, and some paneling come loose.
All the injured were transported to the hospital, CNN reported on Sunday, but a passenger account shared on the BBC said that the ambulances took an hour to arrive.
Two of the injured are reported to be in the intensive care unit (ICU), one for a head injury and the other spinal.
The two-hour-long flight from Mumbai carrying about 200 passengers and crew reportedly ran into trouble during its descent into the Indian city of Durgapur, West Bengal.
Some reports say that the turbulent air disengaged the autopilot, and that the crew had to steer the aircraft through the pocket of rough air.
In a statement to CNN, SpiceJet reportedly said that the “seat belt sign was on when the aircraft encountered turbulence. Multiple announcements were made by the pilots and the crew instructing passengers to remain seated and keep their seat belts fastened. Due to severe turbulence, injuries were caused to few passengers.”
The BBC cited passenger Amit Baul saying that he had seen passengers forget to fasten their seat belts, resulting in them “being bounced up and down from their seats and hitting the overhead baggage bins.”
Baul also said that 15 to 17 minutes into descent were “the worst moments” of his life.
The aircraft in question, a Boeing 737, was consequently grounded and several crew members were “benched” according to the CNN report.
The country’s union minister for civil aviation said that “the matter is being dealt with utmost seriousness and deftness,” in a tweet.
This includes an inspection of the entire SpiceJet fleet consisting of 91 aircraft.
“The passenger charter of rights issued by the Ministry of Civil Aviation in 2019 states that for domestic travel, in case of death or bodily injury to a passenger on-board an aircraft, the airline is liable to pay up to Rs 20 lakh [$26,000] per passenger,” The Indian Express stated in their report of the incident.
No remuneration was announced by the governing authorities or SpiceJet.