'Terrifying' turbulence injures 10 on American Airlines flight to Philadelphia

An American Airlines flight from Greece to Philadelphia was hit by "severe turbulence" just before landing, injuring at least 10 people, the airline said. 

The three passengers and seven crew members injured in Saturday's flight from Athens were taken to a hospital for treatment.

"I was looking forward and I just saw everything just move upward about 4 feet," passenger Alex Ehmke told NBC News. "So, I saw drinks, you know, flying up against walls and up on the ceiling.”

The airline said Flight 759 — carrying 287 passengers and a dozen crew members — briefly encountered severe turbulence shortly before landing.  American said the fasten seat belt sign was on at the time.

Jessica Huseman, a ProPublica reporter on the flight, tweeted that a flight attendant had dislocated his shoulder during the incident.

"No warning at all. Plane lurched thru the air. Honestly, terrifying," she said in a separate tweet. “Some passengers are injured as well.”

The plane safely landed at Philadelphia International Airport at 3:12 p.m. Saturday, ahead of the scheduled time of 3:45 p.m., according to the airline's website.

"We are taking care of our passengers and our crew members at this time and want to thank our team members for keeping our passengers safe," American said in a statement.

Turbulence typically injures dozens of people annually, according to the Federal Aviation Administration statistics. 

The FAA said turbulence caused 44 injuries in 2016 — more than double the 21 reported in 2015. During the past 15 years, the lowest total was 12 injuries in 2006, and the highest was 107 in 2009, according to the FAA.

"Airplanes have seat belts for a reason. Turbulence is a serious threat in the air and it cannot always be predicted," Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, said in April. "It is one of the highest causes of serious on the job injury to flight attendants.

"The forces created in sudden clear air turbulence can throw bodies and unsecure items forcefully through the cabin much like the impact of a high speed collision," she said. "If you are not strapped in and secure, it could be deadly."

© 2017 WFAA-TV


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