A Southwest Airlines flight leaving Cuba for Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on Sunday was forced to turn back following a bird strike that caused an engine to catch fire and fill the cabin with smoke, according to Reuters.
Cell phone video from a passenger on the Boeing 737 showed the smoke-filled cabin and people being instructed to use the oxygen masks that had dropped from the plane’s ceiling.
The bird strike sounded “Like a big boom. Like an explosion,” passenger Steven Rodriguez told WTVJ in a phone interview.
“Nobody could breathe,” Marc Antonio, a passenger on the flight told the “Today” show.
“It was burning so much in the lungs,” he said. “People were just screaming. Kids were screaming.”
The plane returned to Havana’s Jose Marti International Airport and landed safely, a Southwest Airlines spokesperson confirmed.
“Southwest flight #3923 departing Havana, Cuba, for Fort Lauderdale, Florida on Sunday morning reportedly experienced bird strikes to an engine and the aircraft’s nose shortly after takeoff,” the spokesperson told the television news channel.
According to the spokesperson, the 147 passengers were evacuated from the plane via emergency slides.
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