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Video shows passengers terrified as AirAsia flight plummets 20,000 feet in minutes

I picked up my phone and sent a text message to my family, just hoping that they would get it, a tearful passenger said.

world Updated: Oct 17, 2017 15:22 IST
AFP, Sydney
AirAsia,Air Asia flight plummets,Cabin pressure
AirAsia airplane is seen at the Garuda Maintenance Facility AeroAsia in Tangerang, Indonesia.(Reuters File Photo)

A video circulating online showed distressed passengers wearing oxygen masks and stewardesses shouting “passengers, get down, passengers, get down” as an AirAsia flight plummeted 20,000 feet within minutes on Monday.

The flight from Australia to Indonesia was forced to turn back to Perth after losing cabin pressure. Passengers recounted their terror as oxygen masks dropped from the ceiling and an alarm blared. The AirAsia staff can be heard in the video calling for people to assume the brace position.

AirAsia said the plane suffered a “technical issue”, with Australian media reporting that the aircraft had to quickly drop from 32,000 feet (9,753 metres) to 10,000 feet 25 minutes after take-off.

“I picked up my phone and sent a text message to my family, just hoping that they would get it,” one tearful passenger named Leah told Channel Nine television. “It was horrible.”

Another holidaymaker said confusion over what was going on increased fears.

“We didn’t know what was happening because all the voice recordings on the plane were in every language but English,” she said.

AirAsia apologised for the scare, blaming a “technical issue” without elaborating on the cause.

“The safety of passengers and crew is our priority,” the budget airline said in a statement.

A passenger cries at an airport in Perth, Australia after an Indonesia AirAsia flight from Australia to the holiday island of Bali returned to the airport. (AP Photo)

Several flights have been forced back to Australia in recent months, including an AirAsia Gold Coast to Kuala Lumpur service in July that the carrier said involved a suspected bird strike.

A Qantas flight en route to Dallas returned to Sydney in September after the wing flaps could not be retracted, while a Johannesburg-bound plane turned back to Sydney in the same week when a crack in the windscreen was discovered.