NARITA, Chiba Pref. – Rough air left 43 passengers and crew members injured, one seriously, aboard a Northwest Airlines jumbo jet Friday as the flight from Manila was in a holding pattern off Chiba Prefecture awaiting clearance to land at Narita airport, officials said.
The injured, who apparently were not strapped in although the seat belt sign had been turned on, were taken to hospitals near the airport. It was reported that one casualty suffered a broken neck.
The Boeing 747-400 with 408 passengers and 14 crew members aboard landed at Narita International Airport at around 12:20 p.m. Friday, the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry said.
The jet did not notify controllers about the accident or the injured before landing, the ministry’s Narita office said.
Such notification is not mandatory, the office said.
Even so, the carrier’s inaction may draw criticism because it is de facto standard procedure in such a situation, according to aviation experts.
Ambulances and other emergency vehicles could have been mobilized on the runway much earlier if the pilot had declared an emergency before landing, they said.
Vincent Salazar, a 55-year-old American passenger, said he heard screams when the plane suddenly descended and then made an ascent about 30 minutes before landing.
Some people who did not have their seat belts fastened hit their heads on the ceiling and injured their necks.
“It really happened so fast and it was over,” Salazar said. “We were flying and then the seat belt sign came on and when we were trying to get back to the seats, the plane dropped and so some people went up and hit the (ceiling).
“I actually was pretty calm because I’ve flown a lot, but the lady next to me was screaming. . . . And unfortunately some people weren’t in their seat belts. They were just flying.”
Northwest said the “fasten seat belt” light was on when the turbulence hit.
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