Seven people have been hospitalized after lightning created major turbulence on a flight from Texas to Germany on Wednesday night.
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The plane made an emergency landing in Washington, D.C.
According to NBC News, Lufthansa Flight 469 left Austin, Texas, and was flying over Tennessee when it experienced severe turbulence, as the aircraft was believed to have been struck by lightning. At the time, there was a storm cell moving over Tennessee and North Carolina.
Simulated radar showed that the plane dropped 300 feet in a matter of seconds during turbulence. Reports and social media postings suggested that those injured were not wearing seatbelts, though there has been no official confirmation of that.
Either way, the flight was able to reroute and land at Dulles International Airport just after 9 p.m.
Lightning Stikes Plane
A passenger who spoke to The Washington Post said that the flight began its sudden freefall after dinner had been served, and “people and food went flying into the air, hitting and even damaging the ceiling of the plane.”
The injuries suffered by those on board are not believed to be life-threatening, though all seven reportedly remained in the hospital overnight.
The FAA said an investigation is underway.
“Lufthansa Flight 469 diverted to Dulles International Airport and landed without incident around 9:10 p.m. after crew reported encountering severe turbulence at 37,000 feet altitude over Tennessee,” the FAA said in a statement obtained by CBS News. “The Airbus 330 was flying from Austin, Texas to Frankfurt, Germany. The FAA will investigate.”
While this was the first U.S. flight known to experience an in-air issue this year, winter storms caused havoc for the airlines a couple of weeks ago. Also, an FAA system outage disrupted thousands of flights across U.S. in late January.