Passengers on a British Airways flight were told they were about to crash into the sea after an emergency message was played in error.

The 275 people on a Boeing 747 flying from Heathrow to Hong Kong this week heard a female voice on the PA system say: "This is an emergency. We may shortly need to make an emergency landing on water."

"People were terrified," said Michelle Lord, 32, of Preston, Lancashire. "We all thought we were going to die."

Another traveller said: "I can't think of anything worse than being told your plane is about to crash."

BA said it was investigating the incident but denied reports that the message was triggered in error by one of the pilots. A spokesman added: "We would like to apologise to passengers."