A Ryanair flight filled with British holidaymakers bound for Spain was forced to make an unscheduled landing following a loss of pressure in the cabin, the airline confirmed today.
A total of 16 passengers were taken to hospital suffering ear problems after the incident which happened last night en route from Bristol to Barcelona-Girona, Ryanair said.
The aircraft was diverted to Limoges International Airport as a "safety precaution".
But terrified passengers today told how they had feared for their lives as the aircraft plummeted and oxygen masks dropped down
Arctic explorer Pen Hadow and his wife, Mary, and their son and daughter were among those on the flight.
Mr Hadow, who became the first man to walk solo and unsupported from the northern coast of Canada to the North Pole in 2003, said many of the passengers appeared to be in shock.
He said: "I would say some people thought we were going to die - that is how frightening it was. The woman sitting in the seats in front of us was whimpering."
He added some people had cried with relief when the plane landed safely, while others had clapped.
A Ryanair spokeswoman said: "Ryanair confirms that the FR9336 from Bristol airport to Barcelona Girona airport on the evening of 25 August experienced an inflight depressurisation incident which caused the oxygen masks on board to deploy.
"As a safety precaution the captain descended and diverted the aircraft to Limoges Airport at approximately 23.30 local French time.
"All 168 passengers disembarked safely upon landing. A total of 16 passengers together with five accompanying family members have transferred, at their request, to a local hospital complaining of ear ache.
"As a precaution Limoges Airport have arranged a local doctor to be available to any other passengers should they require."
The spokeswoman said a replacement aircraft would take passengers on to Spain this morning.Reuse content