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An Austrian Airlines plane is seriously damaged by a hail storm

  • Author, Matt Murphy
  • Role, BBC news

An Austrian Airlines plane was seriously damaged after it was caught in heavy hail during a flight on Sunday afternoon.

A plane flying from Spain to the Austrian capital, Vienna, was forced to issue a mayday and land after hailstones shattered cockpit windows and tore off the nose cone.

Passengers said there was strong shaking during the flight, and one of them told Austrian media that pieces of the destroyed nose cone could be seen next to the plane.

In a statement to the BBC, Austrian Airlines said the incident occurred after the plane flew into a storm “that was not visible on weather radar,” adding that no passengers had been injured throughout the incident.

Photos shared online showed severe damage to the exterior of the Airbus A320 plane, including an almost completely blown off front nose cone.

Other photos showed dense white cracks on the windshield.

Emmeley Oakley, a passenger on the flight, told ABC News that the plane was on final approach to Vienna when it was suddenly hit by a storm.

“I think we were about 20 minutes from landing when we went into a cloud of hail and thunderstorms and the turbulence started,” she told the broadcaster.

She said passengers “felt the hail” when it hit the plane, and added that the flight became “very rocky for a minute.” According to Ms. Oakley, several people were screaming throughout the incident. She praised the cabin crew, who she said “did a really good job of putting these people at ease.”

Another passenger, identified only as Manuel H, told the Kronen-Zeitung newspaper: “Only afterwards did I realize that parts of the nose cone had flown past me.”

An Austrian Airlines spokesman told the BBC that the technical team “has been tasked with assessing the specific damage to the aircraft.”

“Currently, the hail has damaged two front cockpit windows, the nose of the plane (radom) and some canopies,” the spokesman said.

The incident occurred just weeks after a 73-year-old Briton died during intense turbulence on board a Singapore Airlines flight from London to Singapore.

In a Facebook post on Friday, the airline said it would pay $10,000 (£7,800) to people who suffered minor injuries.

For passengers who have suffered more serious injuries, the airline is providing “an advance payment of $25,000 to cover their immediate needs” and follow-up interviews to address “their specific situation.”