Passengers on a Qantas flight were forced to evacuate the plane after the cabin filled with smoke, according to reports, while accounts posted on social media claimed the pilot screamed at passengers to evacuate.
Qantas confirmed flight 575 returned to Sydney, Australia, shortly after takeoff on Sunday morning, reported The Guardian.
“Once back at the gate, the captain made the decision to evacuate the aircraft as a precaution and three emergency slides were deployed,” the airline said in a statement to the news agency. “Passengers were evacuated through both the slides and normal exits.”
The airliner said that a “thick haze” was reported in the cabin of the plane, reported the Australian Associated Press.
“While customers may have thought it was smoke, there was no fire,” the airliner added.
However, some passengers suggested that the evacuation was frightening.
Just had to evacuate my flight to Perth after engineering issues. Everyone had to exit the plane via slide onto Sydney tarmac after the cabin filled with smoke and the captain screamed evacuate. Terrifying.
— Ally Kemp (@politic_ally) December 14, 2019
“Just had to evacuate my flight to Perth after engineering issues. Everyone had to exit the plane via slide onto Sydney tarmac after the cabin filled with smoke and the captain screamed evacuate,” one passenger wrote on Twitter. Another passenger apparently disputed her account on Twitter, saying they merely walked out of the plane without using a slide.
Another passenger, Niamh Champion, shared a similar account with The Sun tabloid.
“And next thing he (pilot) goes, ‘evacuate, evacuate, evacuate’, like in a calm but firm, loud voice. So instantly everyone jumps off and they’re thinking, ‘Oh my God. I thought there was smoke, or a fire or, you know, something was happening,’” Champion said.
She was close to the back of the door when the evacuation order was made
“The hostess opened the door, bang, the chute comes down and everyone starts rushing into the aisle,” Champion recalled.
Sydney mechanic Rahman Akbari, also a passenger on the flight, said that the captain seemed to be calm but was scary when the crew yelled “evacuate, evacuate” on the tarmac.
“Initially it was just the smell, we could smell something but after a few minutes this fume starting building up in the cabin,” he was quoted by AAP as saying.
“All of a sudden we did a detour back to Sydney and when we landed, all of a sudden we saw smoke coming up and then all the people were saying ‘evacuate, evacuate evacuate’,” passenger Ziggy Annor told 7News, which included a photo of a woman holding her baby while going down the slide.
“My baby was asleep in my arms. She stayed asleep the whole time and I just screamed at my three year old, ‘Owen now!'” the woman with the baby told the news outlet.
Qantas Fleet safety captain Debbie Slade told AAP that the airline understood it might a “very unusual and probably alarming experience for our customers.” She added, “We thank them for giving crew their full cooperation.”
“The crew did a great job of putting their training into action and following the procedures for a set of circumstances like this,” Slade said. “We’ll investigate exactly what happened, including liaising with Airbus, before this aircraft is returned to service.”
Qantas said that two people were injured after using the plane’s slides, and another passenger was hospitalized out of a precaution, 7News reported. Some customers also said they suffered itchy throats and sore eyes.