Mumbai: Five Jet Airways passengers, who suffered nose and ear bleeding Thursday after the crew failed to turn on a switch that controls cabin air pressure, were diagnosed with "mild conductive deafness" and later discharged from hospital, officials said.
The five passengers -- Anveshan Ray (39), Mukesh Sharma (31), Vikas Agarwal (31), Damodar Das (37) and Ankur Kala (38) -- were examined by ENT specialists at the Dr Balabhai Nanavati Hospital, a civic official said.
Nanavati Hospital's chief operating officer Rajendra Patankar said their health condition was stable and they did not require admission. As per their examination by ENT doctors, the five passengers suffered "barotrauma" of ear, which is caused due to a change in air pressure, Patankar told reporters here.
"The five patients, all males, have mild conductive deafness, a temporary condition which is likely to take a week or 10 days to heal. They are advised not to fly till then. They are undergoing all required tests," he said. "Whatever medication is required for the treatment of mild deafness, has been advised," Patankar said.
After the five passengers were examined and provided treatment, they left the hospital, the civic official said. The other passengers were attended to by doctors at the Mumbai airport.
Ankur Kala, who suffered nasal bleeding in the incident, alleged that the flight crew members were like "trainees" who did not know how to handle the situation. "As soon as we took off, the air conditioners were not working. It was suffocating inside. I came to know (later) from the media they had forgotten to switch on the cabin pressure machine," said Kala, who works for a jewellery firm and was going to Jaipur after coming here from Bangkok.
Recounting the ordeal, he said about 15 to 20 minutes after the takeoff, the oxygen masks got deployed from the overhead compartments but there was no instructions on whether to use it or not. "There was no announcement from the pilots or crew whether we were going ahead or landing. The crew members panicked more than the passengers," he claimed, while talking to reporters outside the hospital.
"Suddenly, we smelt like a wire was burning. The pressure was so high that we were covering our ears and holding the oxygen mask with our hands but it was still intolerable. Still, there was no announcement from pilots or crew members as to what exactly was the problem," Kala said. He further said that during landing, there was extreme pressure in the flight and he kept covering his ears and holding the mask, and fell unconscious for 10 to 15 seconds.
"When I removed my mask it was full of blood. I told my co-passengers that I am bleeding and waved to the air hostess, but she told me to remain seated and that all is normal," Kala said. He said after landing, there was no proper medication at the airport and that there were two compounders who cleaned the injuries with cotton.
"We were brought to the airport, saying we will be boarding the next flight. We were around 30 people who suffered injuries, of them 20 were sent to Jaipur by another flight without proper treatment," he claimed. "But I kept insisting that I won't go ahead if I am not given proper medication and declared fit by doctors to fly again," he said, adding that after two hours, he reached the Nanavati Hospital from the airport.
The Mumbai-Jaipur flight was carrying 166 passengers and five crew members on board. Several passengers on the flight from Mumbai to Jaipur suffered nose and ear bleeding after the crew "forgot" to turn on a switch that controls cabin air pressure, officials said.
"During climb, the crew forgot to select bleed switch due to which cabin pressurisation could not be maintained. As a result, oxygen masks got deployed," the official at aviation regulator, Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), said.
The Boeing 737 aircraft returned to Mumbai due to "loss of cabin pressure" and the pilots have been taken off duty pending investigation, a Jet Airways spokesperson said.
Citing initial information, the official said few passengers have nose bleeding. "Out of 166 passengers on board, 30 passengers are affected... Some have nose bleeding, a few have ear bleeding and some are complaining of headache," he added.
Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu ordered a safety audit of all scheduled airlines and airports.