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Passengers Injured in Turbulence on Eastern Plane

July 14, 1986

MIAMI (AP) _ An Eastern Airlines plane struck a pocket of violent turbulence on Sunday, injuring at least 18 people, two seriously, as they were tossed about the cabin, officials said.

At least two Spanish-speaking passengers on Flight 977 from New York’s Kennedy Airport to Miami Airport said they did not understand the pilot’s warning in English to fasten their seat belts.

″The people were screaming. On the second bump, everything started flying. I hit my face on the roof,″ said passenger Alfredo Abril, 22, of Bogota, Colombia.

Four passengers were airlifted to Jackson Memorial Hospital, including a 9- year-old boy who received head and spinal injuries and a 73-year-old woman who suffered internal injuries, said Metro-Dade Fire Department spokesman Lynn Aspinall.

Six others, including two children, were taken to other hospitals. Eight flight attendants were treated for minor injuries. Their conditions were not immediately available.

The pilot of the A-300, which was 20,000 feet over Palm Beach, warned passengers that the flight was likely to encounter turbulence because of a thunderstorm system over South Florida and told them to fasten their seat belts, said Eastern spokesman Jerry Cosley.

″A number of people were thrown around who apparently did not have seat belts on,″ Cosley said. ″The seat belt sign was on.″ He said the turbulence ″had to be severe″ to injure so many passengers.

The pilot called the tower at Miami Airport to request medical assistance about 15 minutes before the plane landed, said Al Hall, Federal Aviation Administration duty officer in Atlanta. The flight arrived two hours late.

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