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Monday, December 29, 1997 Published at 15:55 GMT


Killer turbulence hits flight
image: [ Air bags and passengers' belongings litter the aisle of the Boeing 747 ]
Air bags and passengers' belongings litter the aisle of the Boeing 747

A woman has died and 102 other people were injured during heavy turbulence on a flight from Japan.

Patrick Walker reports on the tragedy (35")
The sudden on-set of air disturbance, two hours after take-off, caused the Boeing 747 to drop 300m (1,000ft) while passengers were walking in the aisles.

[ image: United Airlines flight 826]
United Airlines flight 826
A United Airlines employee said the force of people hitting the plane's ceiling had left several large dents.

"The plane suddenly descended while an attendant was delivering meals and oxygen masks dropped and food scattered everywhere," Joji Hara said.

United Flight 826 took off from Narita airport bound for Honolulu. After meeting the turbulence two hours into the flight it returned to Narita.

[ image: Injured passengers receive treatment]
Injured passengers receive treatment
Nine crew members and 74 passengers were taken to hospital but all except 11 were released shortly afterwards.

The dead woman was Konomi Kataura, 32, of Tokyo, Japanese news agencies reported.

Around 400 people were aboard the jumbo jet when the fatal turbulence struck.

A passenger describes what it was like on board (12'')
It was flying at an altitude of 10,000m (33,000ft) when it experienced trouble.

The pilot told passengers they were in no danger of crashing.

[ image: Passengers hit the ceiling as the plane dropped]
Passengers hit the ceiling as the plane dropped
One of the 374 passengers described the scene inside the aircraft after it fell through the sky.

"The serving carts were thrown to the ceiling and then crashed back down on us," a passenger said.

[ image: Ambulances waited for the plane's return to Japan]
Ambulances waited for the plane's return to Japan
Another passenger added: "People without seat belts were thrown out of their seats."

The Chairman of United Airline, Gerald Greenwald, said: "Our hearts go out to everyone who was on the flight and to their family, to their friends and loved ones."

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