Panicked Flight Crew Terrifies Passengers

Panicked Flight Crew Terrifies Passengers

Panicked Flight Crew Terrifies Passengers

One of the 145 passengers, Claire Askew, told Australia's Seven News that the situation may have been made worse by the panic among the cabin crew.

"He said 'I hope you all say a prayer, I will be saying a prayer too and let's hope we all get back home safely",' she said at the time.

"We were more anxious because of how panicked they were". Passenger Mark Bailey told the Seven Network television that hostesses started screaming emergency and that they went hysterical.

Video circulating online shows distressed passengers wearing oxygen masks with an alarm blaring and AirAsia staff calling for people to assume the brace position.

The plane descended to about 10,000 feet from a height of more than 34,000 feet over the course of about 10 minutes, according to data from the flight-tracking website FlightAware.

The airline released a statement saying that the pilot chose to return following a technical issue to ensure the safety of the passengers. It is not yet clear what caused the problem.

"We commend our pilots for landing the aircraft safely and complying with standard operating procedure", Ling Liong Tien, head of safety for AirAsia Group, said in a statement.

Data from FlightRadar, a website which tracks flights globally using GPS, shows the plane descended 7,250 metres in the space of nine minutes.

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Australian news portal Nine News reported that the flight lost cabin pressure, which led to oxygen masks falling from the cabin.

AirAsia told CNN in an email that the flight was diverted after a "technical issue".

Some passengers said they believed they were going to die and that many attempted to send farewell text messages to loved ones as the stricken aircraft dived without any warning. "It was really upsetting", she further added.

Another passenger said that the panic started only after the staff began creating chaos.

"We are fully committed to the safety of our guests and crew and we will continue to ensure that we adhere to the highest safety standards", he added.

The airline said they were examining the plane apologised for "any inconvenience caused" in a brief statement.

AirAsia said there was a mechanical issue.

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