Severe turbulence on Air Europa flight injures dozens; forces emergency landing

Dozens of people aboard an Air Europa flight were injured Monday after experiencing severe turbulence during a flight from Spain to Uruguay.

The incident occurred about four hours into flight UX045, from Madrid to Montevideo.

The Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner with 325 people on board was forced to make an emergency landing in the city of Natal, in northeast Brazil, in the early hours of Monday, Zurich Airport Brasil, which operates the airport, told Brazilian media.

The plane requested to make the emergency landing just after 2:30 a.m., local time. Fifteen ambulances were deployed to care for the victims, Brazilian officials said.

At least 30 people required medical care, and “most of them” were taken to an area hospital, authorities said.

In a statement posted on social media, Air Europa confirmed the Montevideo-bound flight had been diverted to Natal “due to strong turbulence.”

“The plane has landed normally and the minor injuries that were reported are already being treated,” the Spanish airline shared on X early Monday.

Videos circulating on social media platforms show what appears to be blood stains on a cabin seat. Another video shows a passenger being pulled off an overhead luggage bin.

It’s not immediately clear how the passenger got there.

Cecília Lagucci, who was traveling with her husband and two young sons, ages 2 and 4, told the Brazilian news portal G1 she was asleep when the turbulence hit.

“I woke up and I was upside down,” she said.

Another passenger, 55-year-old Manoel González, had three broken ribs and a pulmonary contusion.

Later on Monday, Air Europa said passengers were being taken to the nearby city of Recife to embark on a separate plane to continue to their final destination.

The plane arrived in Montevideo just before 8 a.m., local time, on Tuesday.

Five passengers remained hospitalized in Brazil, local media reported.

“We are sorry for what happened and the inconvenience caused,” the airline said in a statement. “We hope for a speedy recovery of the passengers. “