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VIDEO: Southwest plane fills with smoke after ‘big explosion,’ makes emergency landing

Masked passengers fill a Southwest Airlines flight. (Christopher Reynolds/TNS)
March 06, 2023

A Southwest Airlines flight was forced to turn back for an emergency landing after the plane struck multiple birds and the cabin filled with smoke as passengers filmed the incident on their phones.

A Southwest spokesperson said Flight 3923 had just taken off from Havana, Cuba for Fort Lauderdale, Florida on Sunday when there are believed to have been “bird strikes to an engine and the aircraft’s nose,” NBC News reported.

Video posted on social media appears to show passengers in the smoky compartment covering their faces with shirts and their hands as the pilot makes an announcement in Spanish.

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The plane landed safely back in Havana, where passengers evacuated via inflatable slides. They were bussed to an airport terminal and expected to be put on a different flight to Fort Lauderdale, the Southwest spokesperson said.

Southwest said none of the plane’s 147 passengers and six staff members were injured in the incident, BBC reported.

Cuba’s civilian aviation authority, Cuban Aviation Corporation S.A., said pilots detected an issue with one of the plane’s engines after the bird strike, NBC reported. Southwest did not confirm the engine problem.

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Cuban Aviation Corporation said the cause of the incident is under investigation, NBC reported.

A passenger named Marco Antonio told NBC that while the plane was climbing, there was suddenly “a big explosion, and the plane just shook, and then it dropped.”

“Nobody could breathe,” Antonio said. “It was burning so much in the lungs. People were just screaming. Kids were screaming. Women.”

Antonio said people screamed for the ceiling-mounted oxygen masks to fall, but “the masks didn’t come out.” Another passenger reportedly told NBC that some passengers bloodied their knuckles punching the ceiling of the plane to force the oxygen masks to deploy.