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Sacramento-bound jet makes emergency landing; hole found in top of the fuselage after loss of cabin pressure

April 1, 2011 |  8:28 pm

Hole400_lj0jjfnc A Southwest Airlines flight from Phoenix to Sacramento with 118 passengers aboard made an emergency landing Friday afternoon in Yuma, Ariz., after a rapid loss of cabin pressure, and the crew found a hole in the top of the fuselage, according to the airline and the Federal Aviation Administration.

A flight attendant suffered a minor injury during the steep descent, but no passengers were hurt on the aborted Flight 812, the airline said.

The Boeing 737 landed safely at 4:07 p.m. at Yuma International Airport, according to the FAA. The pilot "made a rapid, controlled descent" from 36,000 feet to 11,000 feet after the loss of cabin pressurization.

The cause of the decompression was unknown, said FAA spokesman Ian Gregor.

On her Twitter feed, Shawna Malvini Redden, who identified herself as a passenger on the plane, posted photos of other passengers wearing oxygen masks dangling from the cabin ceiling.

"Loss of cabin pressure, hands down the scariest experience of my life," she wrote.

Fire trucks from Marine Corps Air Station Yuma greeted the flight, but no rescue was necessary, said Gen Grosse, corporate account manager for the Yuma County Airport Authority.

But upon landing, "the flight crew discovered a hole in the top of the aircraft," Southwest said in a news release.

"You can see daylight through it," passenger Brenda Reese told KCRA-TV, a Sacramento station. Reese also said a few passengers passed out when they had trouble getting oxygen from their masks.

Flight attendants were "amazing" in helping everyone out, she said.

The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the incident, Gregor said.

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-- Michael Finnegan

Photo: An image provided by passenger Christine Ziegler shows the hole in a Southwest Airlines jet.

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