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Passengers reveal horror as wild footage from LATAM flight emerges

Four Australians were among the 13 people transported to hospital after the flight landed in Auckland from Sydney, with dozens more injured.

Wild footage has emerged from inside the LATAM Airlines flight that "plummeted" from the sky while travelling from Sydney to Auckland on Monday, as authorities seize the Dreamliner's black boxes to conduct an immediate investigation into what went wrong.

Officials from Chile's aviation authority were on their way to New Zealand on Wednesday to head up the probe into the sudden midair dive by the Boeing 787, that left more than 50 people injured, one seriously.

The plane abruptly dropped on Monday about an hour away from Auckland before the pilot was able to stabilise it, though dozens were thrown about the cabin during the ordeal. Nobody has so far been able to explain the aircraft's sudden change in trajectory and safety experts say most midair accidents are caused by a cocktail of factors that need to be thoroughly investigated.

Some passengers were seriously injured, bleeding heavily on board. Source: 9News
Some passengers were seriously injured, bleeding heavily on board. Source: 9News

LATAM passengers share horror accounts of midair 'drop'

Passengers have since spoken out about the conditions on board, with people describing the chaos that erupted after the horrifying drop. One traveller said he saw a man "on the roof of the plane" as they plummeted, before he slammed back down into the middle of the aisle.

"It's dropped out of the air, instantly, then it started to [tilt] nose down, I was sure it was over," passenger Brian Jokat told 9 News.

I looked up to see the gentleman that was sitting next to me on the roof of the plane, I was looking at him fully out stretched with his back on the roof of the plane and then he came crashing down to the floor.LATAM Airlines passenger Brian Jokat

Jokat said that after the flight he asked the pilot what had happened when he spotted him travelling down the aisle. "I said, 'what happened' and he said 'my instruments, I just lost them — just for a few seconds, they went blank'," he said. "Anyone that was not in those seatbelts, just flew randomly across the plane."

About '30 to 40' passengers flung into the air

Another traveller spoke of a passenger who was losing an immense amount of blood as a result of his injuries. "There was a massive air pocket, and about 30 to 40 people have gone flying up in the air," passenger Max Dineley said in a video recorded during the flight. "A lot of people have hit their heads, smacked their heads, we've got one person with a neck injury now bleeding out."

 Pictured is a traveller tending to the man who was flung into the roof of the LATAM Airlines flight from Sydney to Auckland.
One passenger was flung to the roof of the plane before he slammed down into the aisle. Pictured is a traveller tending to the man. Source: 9News

Passengers offered single Macca's cheeseburger

Brisbane woman Clara Azevedo, who was also on the flight, said about 250 passengers who were uninjured were given a single McDonald’s cheeseburger while waiting at the terminal after landing.

Azevedo told the New Zealand Herald passengers were not fed again until Tuesday morning when they shared a breakfast at an Auckland hotel having been transferred there by the airline at 2am. She said it felt like a “miracle” when the pilot regained control of the plane following the loss of altitude, revealing passengers “weren’t sure we were going to make it”.

"We are all traumatised, and we had to find strength to help people out. But, this is not our responsibility, it is LATAM's — but they haven’t done anything. That’s very frustrating," Azevedo said.

Sydney woman Thais Iwamaoto also told the NZ Herald she was frustrated by the lack of information from Latam. "It’s just ridiculous, just so disorganised after what we have been through".

"This (Latam’s communications) is something I want to talk to them about because it’s not okay. It’s just not fair. Accidents happen, but the way they treat us, that’s not what it’s supposed to be," she said.

A man's bruising after being injured on a LATAM Airlines flight from Sydney to Auckland.
A total of 13 people were transported to hospital after landing, among them four Australians. Source: 9News

Richard de Crespigny, former Qantas pilot and author, said he had a feeling in his gut the plane ran into a thunderstorm during clear-air turbulence.

"To be pushed down, which, as the aircraft was, it's a severe movement, it's worse than falling off a cliff," de Crespigny said. "It's possible they inadvertently flew into a thunderstorm, where there are updrafts and downdrafts, that's possible, that's my gut feeling."

LATAM black boxes to be seized

Even US authorities said they'd "follow the incident closely". "We were certainly work with the Australian and New Zealand authorities," the head of the US Federal Aviation Administration Mike Whitaker said.

New Zealand's Transport Accident Investigation Commission will now seize the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder as it works out to determine what caused the drop. The recorders, known as "black boxes", provide data on the flight's direction and communications between pilots.

The Boeing 787 had a total of 272 passengers on board and continued on without incident after the drop, landing safely an hour later in Auckland where it was met by a line of ambulances. Four Australians were among the 13 people taken to hospital.

- With NCA

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