China's flag carrier is investigating claims a flight from Hong Kong to the Chinese mainland suddenly lost air pressure and dropped 6,000 meters (19,600 feet) because the pilots were smoking in the cockpit and accidentally pushed the wrong buttons.
Air China flight CA106, en route from Hong Kong to the northeastern Chinese city of Dalian, descended from above 10,000 meters (32,800 feet) to below 4,000 meters (13,100 feet) in less than nine minutes Tuesday, according to phone GPS data shared with CNN by a passenger on board.
Citing unnamed industry sources, multiple Chinese state media outlets reported the cockpit crew were smoking in violation of aviation regulations, and caused the loss of cabin pressure and drop in altitude when they mistook two switches as air recycling fans and turned them off.
In a video obtained by the Beijing News, a flight attendant is seen walking down the aisle to check on passengers, some of who are putting on oxygen masks in response to a pre-recorded announcement in Chinese and English asking them to do so.
Its last and only fatal accident was in 2002 when a Boeing 767 jetliner crashed into a hill in bad weather near Busan, South Korea, killing 129 of the 166 people on board.
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