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Jet diverts to Shannon after elderly passenger falls ill

By Patrick Flynn

A US-bound passenger jet made a U-turn over the Atlantic and diverted to Shannon Airport after a passenger suddenly fell ill.

British Airways flight BA-2169 departed Gatwick Airport in England shortly before 10.00am and was about 90 minutes into its journey to Fort Lauderdale in Florida when the crew declared an emergency.

There were 278 passengers and a crew of 13 on board.

The Boeing 777-200 jet was south-west of Ireland when the crew informed controllers they had an elderly man on board who required urgent medical attention.

It is understood that man, who is in his 70s, suffered a heart attack on board.

Airport fire crews were standing by for the jet when it landed at 12.18pm while National Ambulance Service paramedics were waiting at the terminal to board aircraft immediately.

Fire crews followed the aircraft along the runway after landing and remained with the plane until it reached the terminal.

An airline spokeswoman said: “Our flight diverted after a customer became unwell and needed urgent medical attention. We have apologised to our customers for the delay, and the flight is continuing on its way to Fort Lauderdale.”

The passenger was removed to University Hospital Limerick for treatment.

The flight continued its journey to the US at 1.45pm.

Last Friday, up to 30 passengers and crew were assessed by paramedics at Shannon Airport after their flight was forced to divert.

Virgin Atlantic Airways flight VS-1050 was travelling from Florida to Gatwick when smoke was detected in the cockpit.

The flight landed safely and no one required hospitalisation.