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MAS flight turns back after losing altitude sharply

KUALA LUMPUR (CNA) – A Malaysia Airlines (MAS) flight from Kuala Lumpur to Tawau in Sabah dove several thousand feet in mid-air, with passengers panicking as the plane lost altitude sharply.

Passenger Halimah Nasoha wrote in a Facebook post on Monday that she boarded flight MH2664 on Sunday at 2.30pm.

She claimed that at about 3.03pm, according to the website FlightRadar, the plane suddenly plunged from 31,000 feet to 24,000 feet in a few seconds.

“I was tossed around a few times because I wasn’t wearing my seatbelt (At the time, we were allowed to unbuckle our seat belts),” she wrote. “The passengers were shouting and crying. It felt as if we were going to die.”

She added that subsequently, the plane made a U-turn and flew around the Melaka area before heading to the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA).

Responding to CNA’s queries, MAS said yesterday that the plane “performed an air turn back due to technical issues with the aircraft, compounded by bad weather en route”.

“As a precautionary measure, the pilot made the decision to return to Kuala Lumpur in the interest of passenger safety. The aircraft landed safely in Kuala Lumpur at 5.03pm.”

The Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM) wrote in a statement on Tuesday that it had been in close contact with MAS to ensure that all the technical safety matters were addressed in accordance with safety procedures and regulations. These included pilot responses and airworthiness processes for the aircraft type, it added.

CAAM CEO Chester Voo said they would be reviewing Malaysia Airlines Berhad’s internal Flight Data Monitoring System, which monitors and records all flight data profiles of the operating aircraft.

Malaysia Airlines planes at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport. PHOTO: AP