Southwest Airlines flight to Florida fills with smoke and returns to Cuba


March 6, 2023 | 5:38

Passengers on a Southwest Airlines flight from Cuba to Fort Lauderdale, Florida erupted in panic and mayhem after the airliner was forced to make an emergency landing following an impact from ‘bird.

Shortly after takeoff from Havana, smoke began to fill the cabin of Flight 3923 after birds reportedly hit one of the plane’s engines and nose.

The Boeing 737 had 147 passengers and six crew on board, and the pilot was able to return the flight to Havana safely. No injuries were reported, Southwest Airlines told the Guardian.

In shocking cellphone footage recorded inside the cabin, some passengers are desperately trying to bang the ceilings above their seats to free their oxygen masks as smoke overwhelms worried travellers.

Screams, panicked whispers of adults and the cries of a child are heard as passengers have no idea what is going on, with one traveler describing hearing a ‘boom’ before the smoke started to fill the cabin.

Several passengers reported that their masks had not fallen off when smoke began to fill the cabin.
Some passengers reportedly hit their bloody fingers on the roof to knock off their masks.

After the plane landed safely at Marti Airport, passengers were seen using the plane’s emergency slide to disembark the plane, with emergency personnel waiting outside proximity.

In another video, the crowd of passengers were seen walking disoriented on the tarmac, many coughing violently and still screaming from the chaos.

When asked what led up to this horrific incident, one passenger recalled hearing “a big boom. Like an explosion.

“To be honest, I thought it was time for me to go,” Steven Rodriguez told NBC 6. “I was terrified.”

Several passengers on the flight to Fort Lauderdale said their air masks on the plane failed to deploy as smoke filled the cabin.

“People started to take matters into their own hands and forcefully hit the roof to eject the masks,” Rodriguez said. “And people had bloody knuckles and stuff from hitting the roof. There were small children on the plane and elderly women.

Another passenger, Jorge Montesino, said he witnessed the plane’s engine fire, prompting him to immediately text his wife and children to convey his love.

When the plane landed safely, although still disoriented, the passengers cheered and applauded the pilot.

“The female captain was amazing,” Montesino told the outlet. “With only one engine, the left engine, she was able to turn around and land safely.”

Firefighters are seen spraying the plane’s engine onto the tarmac after the plane’s emergency landing.

“We commend the prompt and professional actions of our pilots and flight attendants in responding to this event. We apologize to our customers for the inconvenience and have reached out to meet their needs and offer assistance,” said Southwest in a statement about the incident.

Radio Rebelde, the Cuban state media, reported that the plane “detected failures in one of its engines during the take-off process”, citing the Cuban Aviation Corporation SA (CACSA).

CACSA said an investigation is ongoing and the airport will continue operations as usual, CNN reported.

Southwest Airlines said the company would “examine the aircraft to assess damage but has no additional details to share at this time” when asked about the reported engine failure.

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