FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – A Southwest Airlines flight to Florida from Cuba was forced to turn back Sunday after it struck birds that caused an engine to catch fire and fill the cabin with smoke, the airline said. No injuries were reported.
Southwest Airlines flight 2923 departed José Martí international Airport in Havana en route to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on Sunday afternoon. The aircraft “experienced bird strikes to an engine and the aircraft’s nose,” the airline said in a statement.
A passenger told WSVN that the impact sent fumes through the airplane and caused emergency oxygen masks to deploy.
“It was like a burn smell, and it was hurting my face. My eyes got real red, my chest started to burn,” Steven Rodriguez said.
The pilots safely returned to Havana, where the 147 passengers and six crew members evacuated the aircraft on slides, the airline said.
The airline bused passengers and crew members to the airport terminal and put the passengers on a different flight to Fort Lauderdale, the airline said.