A Southwest Airlines plane flying from Havana to Fort Lauderdale made an emergency landing at Cuba’s Jose Marti Airport on Sunday after an engine reportedly caught fire following a bird strike, causing chaos and terror among passengers inside.
Cellphone footage showed smoke filling the Boeing 737’s cabin as panicked adults frantically pounded on the roof to release oxygen masks, and parents tried to explain to their children how to put the masks on their faces.
The video shows passengers on the 11:50 am flight audibly wondering what’s going on, and at least one adult and one child can be heard crying. One passenger described the ordeal as sounding like a giant boom.
Emergency lights on the plane were switched on and footage showed customers evacuating the jet via evacuation slides on the runway at Cuba’s largest airport, while firefighters and trucks looked on after the pilot was able to land.
Outside on the airport floor after the emergency return to Marti Airport, people can be seen walking down the runway together with a woman seated, all trying to clear the air.
A Southwest Airlines plane flying from Havana to Fort Lauderdale was forced to return to Cuba’s Jose Marti Airport on Sunday after an engine reportedly caught fire, causing chaos and terror for passengers inside after a bird strike
Emergency lights on the plane were switched on and footage showed customers evacuating the jet via evacuation slides on the runway at Cuba’s largest airport while firefighters and trucks looked on
Steven Rodriguez, a passenger on the flight, likened the sound before the smoke appeared as “like a big bang, a big explosion.”
A spokesman for Southwest Airlines has since confirmed the incident.
“Southwest Flight No. 3923, which departed from Havana, Cuba, for Fort Lauderdale, Florida on Sunday morning, was reported to have experienced bird strikes on an engine and the nose of the aircraft shortly after takeoff,” the spokesman said in a statement.
“We commend the prompt and professional actions taken by our pilots and flight attendants in responding to this event. We apologize to our customers for the inconvenience and have been in touch to address their needs and offer support,” Southwest added.
Rodriguez claimed that the few safety precautions like masks available to passengers were of little use.
“People started taking things into their own hands and violently hitting the roof to throw off the masks,” Rodriguez told NBC6. ‘And people had bloody knuckles and all from hitting the roof. There were small children on the plane and older women.’
None of the 147 passengers and crew of six were injured and the passengers were able to disembark safely at Marti Airport.
The captain was praised and applauded by travelers when he was able to land the plane.
A passenger on the plane likened the sound, before the smoke appeared, as “like a big bang, a big explosion.”
Passenger Steven Rodriguez claimed that what few safety precautions, such as masks, were available to passengers were of little use during the chaos
In this video captured by coverage of the landing, passengers can be seen using the evacuation slides
Southwest Airlines’ 737 MAX makes an emergency landing at Havana-José Martí Airport in Cuba after an engine problem. All passengers and crew evacuated the aircraft on the taxiway. No injuries reported. pic.twitter.com/Ah4b1vtzil
— Breaking aviation news and videos (@aviationbrk) March 5, 2023
“The captain was amazing,” said Jorge Montesino. “Using only one engine, the left engine, she was able to turn the plane and land safely.”
However, passengers like Rodriguez feared for their lives.
“To be honest, I thought it was time to go,” he said. ‘I was shocked.’
Radio Rebelde, the state-run media outlet in Cuba, said the country’s aviation authority attributed the strikes to “detected failures in one of its engines during the take-off process.”
“CACSA indicated that the causes of this event are being investigated and stressed that the airport facility is currently maintaining regular operations,” Radio Rebelde said.
Southwest Airlines would not confirm an engine failure, but told CNN that the company “will inspect the aircraft to assess the damage but has no further details to share at this time.”
They said customers and crew would be given alternative accommodation to get to Fort Lauderdale, with most booked for Monday morning.
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11825021/Chaos-Southwest-flight-fills-smoke-passengers-forced-wear-oxygen-masks.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 Chaos on Southwest flight filling with smoke and passengers forced to wear oxygen masks