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47 hurt as plane hits turbulence

SEVERE turbulence jolted a Tokyo-bound Northwest Airlines flight from Manila yesterday, injuring 47 people, officials said.

The turbulence hit the plane while it was circling off the coast of Chiba, east of Tokyo, about 30 minutes before landing, said Masashi Takahashi, a spokesman for Northwest Airlines in Tokyo. The plane suddenly descended, sending passengers without their seatbelts fastened lurching from their seat. The flight landed at the nearby Narita International Airport around noon, Takahashi added.

Kenichi Fujii, a fire department official, said 47 people suffered injuries, none of them life-threatening.

The Boeing 747-400 plane was carrying 408 passengers and 14 crew members. All the injured were passengers, according to Takahashi.

Japanese TV networks showed them coming off the plane holding their heads and necks. "I was so scared, I thought I would die," one passenger said. "My whole body was lifted into the air."

Fire trucks and ambulances were on standby when the plane landed. One passenger was taken away on a wheelchair and another on a stretcher. Most injuries were from passengers bumping their heads or jerking their necks.


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