Chaos erupts on Southwest flight as it fills with smoke and desperate passengers don oxygen masks after engine caught fire following bird strikes: Hero female pilot performs emergency landing in Havana shortly after taking off for Fort Lauderdale
- Plane bound for Fort Lauderdale from Havana was forced to return to Havana
- Video footage showed smoke filling the cabin as parents and children panicked
- No one was injured and passengers were able to safely get off the plane
A Southwest Airlines plane bound for Fort Lauderdale from Havana was forced to make an emergency landing at Cuba’s Jose Marti Airport Sunday after an engine reportedly caught fire following a bird strike, causing chaos and terror for passengers inside.
Cell phone footage showed smoke filling the cabin of the Boeing 737 as panicked adults punched the roof in desperation to try and release oxygen masks, with parents attempting to explain to their children how to fit the masks on their faces.
Video shows passengers on the 11:50 a.m. flight audibly wondering what’s going on and at least one adult and one child can be heard crying. One passenger described the ordeal as sounding like a huge boom.
Emergency lighting inside the plane was lit and footage showed customers evacuating the jet via emergency slides on the runway after the plane’s heroic female pilot managed to steer them back down to safety.
Outside on the ground at Marti Airport, people can be seen walking together down the runway, with one woman seated on the tarmac as firemen and trucks waited nearby.
A Southwest Airlines plane bound for Fort Lauderdale from Havana was forced to return to Cuba’s Jose Marti Airport Sunday after an engine reportedly caught fire, causing chaos and terror for passengers inside, following a bird strike
Emergency lighting inside the plane was lit and footage showed customers evacuating the jet via emergency slides on the runway at Cuba’s largest airport as firemen and trucks looked on
Steven Rodriguez, a passenger on the flight, compared the sound before the smoke appeared as ‘like a big boom, a big explosion.’
‘Southwest flight #3923 departing Havana, Cuba, for Fort Lauderdale, Florida on Sunday morning reportedly experienced bird strikes to an engine and the aircraft’s nose shortly after takeoff,’ a Southwest Airlines spokesperson said in a statement.
‘We commend the swift, 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 address their needs and offer support.’
Rodriguez claimed that the safety precautions, like masks, available to passengers were of little use.
‘People started taking matters into their own hands and by force were punching the roof to eject the masks,’ Rodriguez told NBC6. ‘And people had bloody knuckles and all because they were punching the roof. There were little kids on the plane and elderly women.’
None of the 147 passengers and crew of six was injured and passengers were able to safely get off the plane at Marti Airport.
The captain was given praise and applause from travelers upon being able to land the plane.
Passengers are seen using the emergency slides in this video that was captured from coverage of the landing
‘The female captain was incredible,’ Jorge Montesino said. ‘With only one engine, the left engine, she was able to turn the plane around and land safely.’
However, passengers like Rodriguez were left to fear for their lives.
‘To be honest, I thought it was my time to go,’ he said. ‘I was terrified.’
Radio Rebelde, the state-run media outlet in Cuba, said the country’s aviation department blamed the strikes on ‘detected failures in one of its engines during the takeoff process.’
‘CACSA indicated that the causes that originated said event are being investigated and highlighted that, at this time, the airport facility maintains its regular operations,’ Radio Rebelde said.
Southwest Airlines would not confirm an engine failure but told CNN that the company will ‘review the aircraft to assess the damage but do not have additional details to share at this time.’
They said that customers and crew would be given alternate accommodations to get to Fort Lauderdale, with most having been booked for Monday morning.