Passengers on an Indonesia AirAsia flight from Australia to the holiday island of Bali described a panicked flight crew announcing an emergency and oxygen masks dropping from the ceiling after their airliner lost cabin air pressure and rapidly descended. Flight QZ535 returned safely on Sunday to Perth airport, where many of the 145 passengers spoke to media about the fear and confusion on board. "The panic was escalated because of the behavior of staff who were screaming, looked tearful and shocked," passenger Clare Askew told reporters. "Now, I get it, but we looked to them for reassurance and we didn't get any, we were more worried because of how panicked they were," she added.
The budget Indonesian airline said in a statement the pilot turned back "following a technical issue to ensure the safety of passengers," the AP report. The Australian Transport Safety Bureau, an accident investigator, says it is investigating the airliner's depressurization at 34,000 feet. The plane rapidly descended to around 10,000 feet, an altitude to which cabins are pressurized and at which oxygen masks are no longer needed. Data from FlightRadar shows the plane descended 23,800 feet in the space of nine minutes. Passenger Mark Bailey told reporters: "Hostesses started screaming: 'Emergency, emergency.' They just went hysterical." He added: "There was no real panic before that, then everyone panicked,."