Passengers on a budget airline have suffered bleeding from the ears, mouth and nose after their plane plummeted 27,000 feet.
The Ryanair plane, which was flying from Ireland to Croatia on Friday, descended suddenly following what the airline said was a drop in cabin pressure forcing an emergency landing in Germany.
A log on flightradar24.com showed the flight descending from 37,000 to 10,000 feet over a seven-minute period 80 minutes into the flight.
Oxygen masks fell from the ceiling and passengers reported feeling intense pain in their ears until the plane levelled off and landed at Frankfurt-Hahn airport.
Ryanair said the plane “landed normally and customers disembarked, where a small number received medical attention as a precaution”.
Minerva Galvan Domenech, from Spain, told news website Spiegel Online passengers – some of them bleeding from their ears, mouth or nose – had to wait 45 minutes before being allowed to leave the plane.
She added many passengers had to spend the night at the airport, some of them lying on the ground.
German police said 33 of the 189 passengers on board were taken to a nearby hospital after complaining of headaches, ear pain and nausea. All were able to leave again by Saturday morning.
Passenger Conor Brennan told the Irish Times newspaper “airport staff and Red Cross did their best to handle the situation, as Ryanair were nowhere to be seen”.
“They really displayed a shocking lack of empathy for their customers, almost bordering on inhumane,” he said.
Ryanair said it had agreed to pay for hotels for the affected passengers but said there was a “shortage of available accommodation”.
German air accident investigator BFU, responsible for investigating the incident, said its team was heading to Frankfurt-Hahn airport to secure the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder, and to interview crew and passengers.
The BFU spokesman declined to speculate on the possible cause of the incident.
With Reuters and Associated Press