Airplane suddenly drops 25,000 feet midflight, injuring 17 passengers

FILE-A Korean Air Boeing 737-8B5 (front) taxis up the runway, while a Korean Air Boeing 747-4B5 (back) is parked at Gimpo International Airport on 17 April 2018, in Seoul, South Korea. (Photo by S3studio/Getty Images)

Over a dozen plane passengers were injured after their flight dropped 25,000 feet and flew in circles several times, flight tracker data shows.

The flight, Korean Air 189, departed from Seoul, South Korea, at around 4 p.m. local time on Saturday. Although the plane was expected in Taichung, Taiwan, around three hours later, the flight quickly diverted back to Seoul after it reached the southern tip of the Korean peninsula.

According to FlightAware, the aircraft was a Boeing 737 MAX 8. Yonhap News Agency reported that the diversion was caused by a problem with the plane's pressurization system.

During the diversion, the aircraft made a steep 25,000-foot descent — roughly 4.75 miles — over the course of around eight minutes, injuring roughly 17 of the flight's 125 passengers.


FlightAware data shows that the airplane appeared to fly in an oval shape several times before it headed back to Seoul. The plane landed shortly after 7:30 p.m. local time.

South Korea's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport told Yonhap News Agency that 15 passengers hyperventilated and suffered eardrum pain during the sudden drop.

Korean Air confirmed the incident to Fox Business. In a statement, the airline said it is "fully cooperating with all relevant authorities to investigate the circumstances surrounding the incident."

The airline also confirmed that 17 flight passengers underwent medical treatment when the plane landed. According to Korea Air, the passengers have all been discharged with no severe injuries.

A spokesperson also added that all affected passengers have been given accomodation, meals and other arrangements by the airline.

"Our commitment to the safety and well-being of our passengers and crew remains unchanged," the Korea Air spokesperson added. "We apologize to all affected by this incident."

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