- The Washington Times - Monday, August 3, 2009

MIAMI (AP) — A Continental Airlines night flight from Brazil to Texas hit turbulence over the Atlantic ocean that injured 26 people, forcing an emergency landing in Miami early Monday, officials said.

Four people were seriously injured aboard the Boeing 767 and another 22 were in stable condition with bumps and bruises, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue spokesman Elkin Sierra said. A total of 13 people were taken to local hospitals.

Continental Flight 128 was traveling from Rio de Janeiro to Houston with 168 people on board when it was diverted, Miami International Airport spokesman Marc Henderson says.

Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said the turbulence struck when the plane was about halfway between Puerto Rico and Grand Turk island, north of the Dominican Republic.

The plane reported hitting severe turbulence at 4:30 a.m. and landed safely at 5:30 a.m, Bergen said

Houston-based Continental did not immediately respond to multiple messages left for a spokesman.

Rio was also the departure airport for Air France Flight 447 that crashed in the mid-Atlantic. more than 900 miles off Brazil’s northeastern coast, in thunderstorms on June 1, killing all 228 people on board.

The FAA’s Bergen cautioned against drawing any parallels and said the cause and severity of the turbulence in the Continental case was still being investigated. “I wouldn’t draw any conclusions and comparisons,” Bergen said.

Those not seriously injured would be flown on to Houston, the airport spokesman said.

Continental’s Web site showed the flight was scheduled to leave Miami for Houston later in the morning.

Henderson said the uninjured passengers remained on the plane. Because it was an international flight, “if they get off, they have to be cleared, and I am not aware that they have been cleared off the plane.”

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