5 lightly injured as plane hits heavy turbulence en route to Israel

Austrian Airlines incident comes hours after Wizz Air flight to Riga returns to Israel with engine trouble soon after takeoff

Austrian Airlines planes stand at Vienna-Schwechat airport in Vienna, Austria. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak, File)
Austrian Airlines planes stand at Vienna-Schwechat airport in Vienna, Austria. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak, File)

Five people were lightly injured when their Austrian Airlines flight to Tel Aviv hit heavy turbulence on Monday.

The plane landed safely at Ben-Gurion International Airport, where medical teams were on hand to examine the injured. None of them required hospitalization.

The highly unusual incident occurred on a flight arriving from Vienna. The Israel Airports Authority said a boy was lightly hurt in the head during the turbulence, and that the others injured — including a flight attendant — were suffering from dizziness.

The crew decided not to turn back because the plane was quite close to Israel, Hebrew reports said, and the flight did not encounter further heavy turbulence.

The Airports Authority gave the incoming plane priority in landing and provided immediate medical help. Those affected had already been checked by a nurse who happened to be on the plane, the reports said.

The plane’s return flight to Vienna later Monday was cancelled, and Austrian Airlines said it would arrange alternative routes for affected passengers.

The incident marked the second of the day at Ben Gurion, after a Wizz Air flight was forced to return to the airport shortly after takeoff Monday morning, reporting engine trouble.

Wizz Air flight W62542 to Riga took off at 11:36 a.m. for its scheduled four-hour flight to Latvia. However, shortly after takeoff the pilot reported engine trouble while the plane was still making its climb over the Mediterranean, and declared a general emergency.

The flight, with 178 passengers on board, turned back to Israel to make an emergency landing.

Firefighting crews and emergency personnel were on standby as the Airbus A320 made its landing safely.

The airport declared a level 2 emergency, summoning dozens of ambulances from stations in the nearby cities — Rishon Lezion, Petah Tikva, Tel Aviv, Ramat Gan, Lod and Rehovot. Asaf Harofeh Medical Center and Tel Hashomer Hospital were put on standby.

However, the plane landed safely and there were no reports of injuries. It had been in the air for a total of 69 minutes.

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