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Elderly woman dies on flight diverted to Shannon

An elderly woman has died after she fell ill on board a US-bound flight that turned around over the Atlantic and diverted to Shannon Airport this afternoon.

United Airlines flight UA-961 was travelling from Frankfurt, Germany to Newark in the US when the 71-year-old woman began to suffer breathing difficulties. It is believed she suffered a cardiac arrest.

The flight was over two hours into its journey when the crew made contact with air traffic controllers in Ireland to advise them of their emergency.

A number of people jumped into action with several taking turns administering CPR. It is understood that a defibrillator was also used while CPR continued for over 30 minutes.

The flight landed safely at 2.09pm and was met on arrival by fire crews who were standing by as a precaution.

The National Ambulance Service (NAS) dispatched an ambulance and rapid response advanced paramedic to the airport. However, the woman was pronounced dead shortly after the flight landed.

A Garda spokesman confirmed: “A passenger was pronounced dead after the flight landed at Shannon. The local coroner has been notified and the body was removed to University Hospital Limerick where a post-mortem examination will be carried out.”

Passenger Adam Lisberg, who was returning from a work trip to Frankfurt, said: “Several people went to help. There was oxygen used and an AED (automatic external defibrillator) was used at least once. I heard someone call ‘clear’.”

“A number of people took turns doing CPR for about 30 to 40 minutes but it was obvious it wasn’t doing any good. It’s a sad story but everyone did what they could,” Mr Lisberg added.

Update: There were 170 passengers and a crew of 11 on board.

An airline spokeswoman said: "United Flight 961 travelling from Frankfurt to Newark diverted to Shannon due to a medical emergency onboard. Medical personnel met the aircraft at the gate. We are deeply saddened to learn that our customer passed away and we are assisting the family.”

The flight resumed its journey to Newark at 4.37pm.