World

Passengers of AirAsia flight that plunged 20,000 feet describe terror

SYDNEY An AirAsia flight from Australia to Indonesia had to turn back to Perth after losing cabin pressure, with passengers yesterday recounting their terror as oxygen masks dropped from the ceiling.

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

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

"I picked up my phone and sent a text message to my family, hoping they would get it," a tearful passenger named Leah told Channel Nine television.

"It was horrible."

Another holidaymaker said not knowing what was going on heightened fears.

"We did not 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. "AirAsia apologises to passengers for any inconvenience caused."- AFP

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