Sixteen people have been taken to hospital after a Ryanair flight bound for Spain was forced to land following a loss of cabin pressure.
The passengers were treated for ear problems after the incident which happened last night en route from Bristol to Barcelona's Girona airport.
The aircraft was diverted to Limoges International Airport in France as a "safety precaution" but terrified passengers have spoken of how they had feared for their lives as the aircraft plummeted and oxygen masks dropped down.
Arctic explorer Pen Hadow, who was on the flight with his wife Mary and their two children, said: "I would say some people thought we were going to die - that is how frightening it was. The woman sitting in the seats in front of us was whimpering."
He added some people had cried with relief when the plane landed safely, while others had clapped.
A Ryanair spokeswoman said: "Ryanair confirms that the FR9336 from Bristol airport to Barcelona Girona airport on the evening of August 25 experienced an inflight depressurisation incident which caused the oxygen masks on board to deploy."
She added: "As a safety precaution the captain descended and diverted the aircraft to Limoges Airport at approximately 23.30 local French time.
"All 168 passengers disembarked safely upon landing. A total of 16 passengers together with five accompanying family members have transferred, at their request, to a local hospital complaining of ear ache.
"As a precaution Limoges Airport have arranged a local doctor to be available to any other passengers should they require."
The spokeswoman said a replacement aircraft will take passengers on to Spain this morning.
Mr Hadow - who became the first man to walk solo and unsupported from the northern coast of Canada to the North Pole in 2003 and is planning to embark on an expedition in February to measure the thickness of Arctic sea ice by traversing it with radar - said many of the passengers appeared to be in shock.
He described hearing a "loud and unnerving sound" as the cabin pressure dropped.
"I knew it wasn't an engine problem," he said. "There was a sudden drop in temperature and a rush of cold air. You think to yourself: God, is there a hole in the aircraft? It actually felt like someone had opened a door at the back of the aircraft. It was incredibly cold.
"The next thing the oxygen masks were dropping. My highest priority was to get a mask onto my son who was sitting next to me in a bemused and frightened state.
"We were descending for about five minutes from what I assume was 30,000 or 40,000ft to 8,000ft. As we landed we saw fire engines every quarter of a mile down the runway.
"It was obvious to me that there was depressurisation in the cabin but there was no announcement and no evidence of the cabin crew for most of this experience. Why on earth didn't they give a few more calming words to the passengers?"-tak o calym zdarzeniu donosza media na wyspach
A total of 16 passengers together with five accompanying family members have transferred, at their request, to a local hospital complaining of ear ache - donosza irlandzkie gazety
chwile grozy przeżyli pasażerowie :-))))) tylko dlaczego hospitalizowano tych dwudziestukilu nie jest wyjasnione
jest info w przeglądzie prasy
czy ktos cos slyszal o wczorajszym locie do Girony? ponoc jakies awaryjne ladowanie bylo....