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Page last updated at 16:22 GMT, Monday, 3 August 2009 17:22 UK

Turbulence hurts 26 on US flight

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Passengers speak of the turbulence which hit their flight

At least 26 people were injured when a Continental Airlines jet hit "extreme turbulence" and made an emergency landing in Miami, officials said.

The Boeing 767 had been travelling from Rio de Janeiro to Houston when it encountered trouble north of the Dominican Republic at about 0830 GMT.

Passengers reported a sudden drop that threw some people against the roof.

Four people were seriously injured, while the other 22 suffered bumps and bruises, a fire service spokesman said.

Investigation

Continental Flight 128 had been cruising at 11,600m (38,000ft) when it hit extreme turbulence about 80km (50 miles) north of the Dominican Republic, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said.

"The plane just dropped," 18-year-old Carolina Portella said. "I just grabbed the hand of the person next to me and held on."

Another passenger, Fabio Ottolini, said some flight attendants who were standing in the aisles when the turbulence hit were thrown against the roof.

"People didn't have time to do anything," AP news agency quoted him as saying.

The pilot declared an emergency and diverted to Miami, where the plane landed at 0535 local time (0935 GMT).

Airline catering lorries with hydraulic lifts were reportedly used by rescue crews to get those hurt off the plane as quickly as possible.

Fourteen people were taken to local hospitals, four with serious neck and back injuries.

Those with minor injuries were flown to Houston later along with the remaining passengers. There had been a total of 168 passengers and 11 crew on board, officials said.

An investigation into the incident is expected to begin shortly.



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