KLM on Thursday confirmed that 20 people were injured when one of its aircraft hit heavy turbulence a few hours after it took off from Amsterdam to Japan.
17 passengers and 3 crew were injured when a sudden drop in air pressure over St Petersburg (Russia) caused the Boeing 777-200ER (PH-BQA) to drop 50 metres.
Pilots of the aircraft carrying 262 passengers and 14 crew, noticed a cloud front and immediately urged passengers to return to their seats and tie their seat belts. The crew was serving dinner at this time and was not able to do so as well.
But the turbulence began quicker and was heavier than expected and within seconds, the aircraft dropped and trolleys with coffee and tea rolled through the plane, a spokesman said.
Several passengers and crew sustained burns when hot meals scattered, hot drinks spilled and glasses were shattered.
Despite the incident, pilots continued the journey and Flight 867 landed at Kansai International Airport in the western Japanese city of Osaka at 9.17 am (0017 GMT), nearly 11 hours after takeoff.
Reports said pilots had decided to proceed to Japan after the incident because all the injuries were minor. 9 passengers and 3 crew were taken to nearby hospitals and released within a few hours. 1 passenger suffered serious burns.
The Dutch carrier has offered to reimburse passengers for damages they may have suffered due to the turbulence and provided emergency phone numbers for passengers wanting psychological assistance.
KLM and the Japanese Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry on Thursday said checks at Osaka showed the aircraft had suffered no damage and the Boeing began its return flight to Amsterdam.