Dozens injured aboard Air Canada flight hit by turbulence

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LOS ANGELES – An Air Canada flight Thursday morning was forced to divert to Honolulu, capital of U.S. Hawaii, after suffering turbulence, which caused 37 injuries, local media reported.

According to Air Canada spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick, the Boeing 777-200 was carrying 269 passengers and 15 crew members en route from Vancouver to Sydney.

The local Hawaii News Now website reported the plane landed at the Honolulu's airport around 6:45 a.m. local time (1645 GMT).

Two hours after it had flown past Hawaii, the airline reported experiencing "un-forecasted" and "sudden" turbulence, then diverted back to Honolulu. Of the injured people, 30 were taken to hospital, nine of them seriously wounded.

The remaining 21 individuals were listed as being in a stable condition, according to officials. Local media reports said the injured passengers were tossed into the air by the turbulence, with some hitting the ceiling.

About half of them were not wearing seatbelts at the time. Honolulu Emergency Services Department spokeswoman Shayne Enright said the injuries included cuts, bumps, bruises, neck pain and back pain.

Such injuries indicate that the passengers were basically flung out of their seats when the aircraft hit the "bumpy" spot above the Pacific.

"We hit turbulence and we all hit the roof and everything fell down, and stuff ... people went flying," Jess Smith was quoted as saying. "I watched a whole bunch of people hit the ceiling of the plane," said another passenger Alex MacDonald.

"A couple of the air hostesses were bringing food out at the time, and they hit the roof as well. But as a whole people seem to be OK; didn't seem to be any major injuries."

The turbulence happened at 10,973 meters high, about 966 km southwest of Honolulu, according to U.S. Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor. Crew members asked for medical personnel to meet the plane at the gate.

Air Canada was arranging hotel accommodations and meals in Honolulu and options for resuming the flight, said Air Canada spokeswoman Angela Mah.

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