Up in smoke: Vaping China co-pilot sparks mid-air emergency

This file photo taken on April 6, 2017 shows Air China planes parked at the Beijing Capital International Airport. (AFP)
Updated 14 July 2018
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Up in smoke: Vaping China co-pilot sparks mid-air emergency

  • Co-pilot accidentally switched off air-conditioning instead, leading to a decrease in cabin oxygen levels
  • The incident, which resulted in the deployment of passenger oxygen masks

SHANGHAI: An Air China jet made a rapid emergency descent after a co-pilot mistakenly turned off air-conditioning systems in a bid to conceal his e-cigarette smoke, Chinese media quoted the country’s civil aviation authority as saying Friday.
The incident, which resulted in the deployment of passenger oxygen masks, occurred Tuesday on a flight by the Chinese flag carrier from Hong Kong to the city of Dalian in northeastern China.
The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) said in a press conference in Beijing that the drama was triggered when the co-pilot sought to turn off a ventilation system to prevent his smoke spreading into the main cabin, the respected news site Caixin said.
Smoking is not allowed aboard Chinese commercial passenger flights.
But the co-pilot accidentally switched off air-conditioning instead, leading to a decrease in cabin oxygen levels.
That set off an emergency warning system indicating that the 737 jet may have flown too high and instructing the pilots to quickly descend.
Chinese media reports quoted passengers and flight-tracker sites as saying the plane may have descended as much as several thousand meters.
The CAAC said the aircraft dropped down to low as 3,000 meters (10,000 feet), without specifying its original altitude.
Video from aboard the flight that was later posted on social media showed oxygen masks hanging down from the ceiling throughout the cabin, but no signs of panic.
The CAAC has said there were no injuries to the 153 passengers and nine crew.
It added that it was continuing to investigate the incident.


More than 400 hurt in French fuel price protests

Updated 49 min 7 sec ago
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More than 400 hurt in French fuel price protests

  • The injured, 409 in total, included 28 police, paramilitary police or firefighters
  • On Saturday, groups blocked roundabouts, major highways and thoroughfares to express anger over increased taxes on fuel and their shrinking purchasing power under President Emmanuel Macron

PARIS: More than 400 people were hurt, 14 seriously, in a day and night of “yellow vest” protests over rising fuel price hikes around France that claimed one life, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said on Sunday.
The injury toll, more than double the last tally provided on Saturday, followed what Castaner described as a “restive” night in 87 locations around the country where protesters had blocked roads to express their anger at a series of hikes in petrol tax.
The injured, 409 in total, included 28 police, paramilitary police or firefighters.
There were more protests Sunday in several regions across France, leading to traffic disruptions, but their intensity seemed to be diminishing, according to AFP journalists.
But French retail group Auchan reported violent incidents at around 20 shopping centers where it operates hypermarkets.
Castaner told RTL radio that 288,000 people had taken part in Saturday’s protests at 2,034 locations countrywide. About 3,500 stayed out overnight, he added.
Police questioned 282 protesters in total, 73 during the night, of whom 157 were taken into custody.
“Last night was restive... There were assaults, fights, stabbings,” Castaner said. “There were fights among ‘yellow vest’ protesters. There was a lot of alcohol at certain venues, which led to this idiotic behavior.”
Budget Minister Gerald Darmanin said Sunday the government was aware of unhappiness over high fuel taxes, but said it had “a duty” to transform the French economy with the aim of making it less oil-dependent.
A poll published Sunday in the Journal de Dimanche weekly said that 62 percent of those questioned believed their purchasing power was more important than a fast transition toward renewable energy.
Prime Minister Edouard Philippe was to appear on national TV Sunday evening to discuss the protests.
On Saturday, groups blocked roundabouts, major highways and thoroughfares to express anger over increased taxes on fuel and their shrinking purchasing power under President Emmanuel Macron.
Tempers flared at times as some drivers confronted the protesters or tried to force their way through the barricades.
In the eastern Savoie region, authorities said a woman trying to get her daughter to a doctor panicked after protesters surrounded her car and banged on the roof. She accelerated into the crowd and killed a 63-year-old woman.
The driver was on Sunday charged with manslaughter before being released on conditional bail, prosecutors said.
The protesters are nicknamed “yellow vests” for the high-visibility jackets they wear.
An opinion poll published in the Sunday paper Journal du Dimanche meanwhile indicated that Macron’s popularity had dipped a further four points to 25 percent.
The survey was conducted November 9-17 with 1,957 respondents.