“Cabin crew were sweating and shouting, people were crying and praying”
Chaos reigned on an Air France flight from Paris to Bogota as the aircraft rapidly descended to within 700 metres of the sea to offload fuel before making for the nearest runway – Lajes airport on the tiny island of Terceira in the Azores. Passengers said afterwards that they thought they were going to die as the smell of burning filled the cabin, fuel could be seen pouring away from the wings and the sea was visible directly below. People on board were “saying their goodbyes to one another”, according to one couple. A Swedish passenger, Eden Victoria Erlandsson, told the newspaper Expressen that “panic took over, the cabin crew were sweating and shouting, and people were crying and praying. It was total panic.”
The stricken plane landed at Lajes at about 13.30 on Monday. Chaos continued as passengers and crew were evacuated via emergency slides and fire brigades and ambulances rushed to the runway. Passengers are now asking why the flight was allowed to leave in the first place. Following a delay, there was a smell of burning during take-off.