A Malaysia Airlines flight from Sydney to Kuala Lumpur was forced to make an emergency landing in central Australia Thursday after terrified passengers reported the plane violently shaking in mid air.
Flight MH122 had to turn back not far from Broome on Australia’s north west coast, landing at Alice Springs at 17:48 local time (01:48 EST), the BBC reported. The plane, an Airbus A330-300, appeared to run into problems roughly four hours into the scheduled flight.
Frightened passengers told Australia’s Channel 9 news that they thought they were going to die as the flight was rocked by a “massive vibration,” prompting cabin staff to begin an emergency landing procedure.
"The lights had just been turned off and everyone was settled in," one passenger Donna Edwards told the news website. "All of sudden a massive vibration, the whole plane was shaking," she added.
Passengers held hands, bracing themselves for half an hour before the crew announced they should “brace for impact,” Edwards explained.
There seemed to be mixed messages in the cabin about whether the plane was landing or crashing. Little information was also forthcoming over the nature of the mechanical problem. Edwards said the passengers were told the pilot would give a 30 second warning before impact.
"One of the crew stopped near us and one guy said ‘are we crashing or are we landing’ … the crew member said 'I don't know'. We were just bracing for the worst. I thought I was going to die,” Edwards said.
In a statement Malaysian Airlines has said the flight was diverted after the plane experienced a “technical fault on one of the aircraft’s engines.” It added that “safety was not at any time compromised.”
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