Northwest flight to Tokyo hits severe turbulence, 50 injured

As Gadling’s resident pilot Kent would no doubt point out, here’s a story that shows why we’re asked to keep our seat belts fastened when seated during flight.

The Associated Press is reporting that 50 passengers have been injured on a Tokyo-bound Northwest Airlines flight from the Philippines today after the plane hit a patch of severe turbulence.

Four passengers are in the hospital right now, including one with a serious neck injury.

The turbulence hit when the plane was about 30 miles outside Tokyo’s Narita airport. The plane apparently descended sharply to get out of the rough air, sending those who were not wearing the seat belts flying forward and up.

The plane, a 747-400, was carrying 408 passengers and 14 crew members. Some of the crew also suffered minor injuries.