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Jumbo Jet Hits Turbulence; 1 Killed, More Than 100 Hurt

Mon., Dec. 29, 1997

A United Airlines jumbo jet hit massive air turbulence over the Pacific late Sunday, killing one woman and injuring at least 102 people, some of them seriously.

United Flight 826 was en route to Honolulu when it encountered severe turbulence and returned to Narita international airport about two hours later, a United spokesman said from the company’s Chicago headquarters. Narita is 40 miles east of Tokyo.

Of the 102 people treated for injuries, 11 passengers and one crew member remained hospitalized early today, said Toru Kawai, an airport police spokesman. He said their conditions were not life-threatening.

Japanese news reports said the turbulence was so violent that the plane suddenly dropped, sending passengers and flight attendants into overhead luggage compartments and the ceiling.

A United spokeswoman said the Boeing 747 encountered “severe clear-air turbulence,” unanticipated rockiness that develops when there are no storms visible.

Joji Hara, a 50-year-old passenger from Tokyo, said there were several dents in the ceiling panel caused by people being thrown against the roof.

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