A Southwest Airlines flight to Florida made an emergency landing in Cuba Sunday after a suspected bird strike caused smoke to pour into the passenger cabin, the airline said.
Smoke entered the cabin of the plane but no one was harmed in the incident involving Southwest Airlines flight 3923 to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, said the airline and the Cuban civil aviation authority, Cacsa.
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The pilots safely returned to Havana where customers evacuated the aircraft via slides due to smoke in the cabin, Southwest Airlines said. The Boeing 737 was carrying 147 passengers and six crew members.
Birds struck one of the plane’s engines and its nose shortly after takeoff. The passengers would be put on another flight to Fort Lauderdale, the airline said.
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“We apologize to our customers for the inconvenience and have reached out to address their needs and offer support,” it added. Technicians were still assessing damage to the aircraft Monday.
Videos of the flight surfaced on social media showing passengers on the flight panicking and children crying as smoke filled the cabin and pilots made an emergency landing. Passengers can be heard coughing and complaining about the thick smoke. Oxygen masks dangled over some seats.
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A man can be heard passing instructions over the intercom. “When we land please do not become desperate. Cover yourselves with your clothes,” the man said.
According to a DailyMail report, some of the oxygen masks didn’t release properly which panicked several passengers and led to banging on the roof in desperation and ending up with bloodied knuckles.
The captain of the flight was appreciated for successfully making a safe landing at Cuba’s Jose Marti Airport with only one engine functioning on the Boeing 737.
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Passengers were in good condition after evacuating the plane, the Cuban Aviation Corporation SA (CACSA) told the state-run Cuban outlet Radio Rebelde. It added that the event was being investigated.