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Smoke indicator light causes New York-bound Cayman Airways plane to make emergency landing in Florida


Passengers on a New York-bound flight made an unexpected stop in Florida after a light indicating smoke in the plane’s cargo hold switched on Sunday.

Cayman Airways flight KX792 departed the Cayman Islands for New York’s JFK airport around 3:30 p.m. — but about an hour and a half into the flight, the plane declared an emergency when the warning light went on, the airline said in a statement.

The plane safely landed at Orlando International Airport and the 103 passengers and five crew members exited the plane through emergency over-wing exits and deployed chutes.

No passengers needed medical attention from onsite personnel when the plane landed, and all those on board were given accommodations and a replacement flight Monday, according to the airline.

Jenn Chirico, a passenger on the plane during the emergency landing, shared a Facebook post with video that showed passengers running away from the plane as it was being evacuated.

“People in exit rows were to help, slides were deployed, we were instructed when on the ground to run as fast as we could from the plane. It was one of the scariest things I have ever experienced,” Chirico wrote in the caption.

Chirico said passengers on the plane were okay following the incident — but urged those sitting in the emergency row to ensure they are prepared to help others in case an event occurs during a flight.

“If you’re ever in an exit row PLEASE make sure you are really willing and able. This instance wasn’t like this and those that were supposed to help, were out for themselves. Pregnant women jumping off wings of planes, people’s falling as they came down. This is a serious question when you’re asked - be honest,” Chirico wrote.

There was no initial indication that there was smoke in the cargo hold, Cayman Airways said — but an official investigation is underway.

“We are extremely mindful that this emergency landing and evacuation was a very distressing event,” Cayman Airways President and CEO Fabian Whorms said in a statement. “On behalf of Cayman Airways, I offer a most sincere apology to our passengers for having to experience this emergency landing and evacuation, which was necessary in the interest of the safety of our passengers and crew. We have removed the affected aircraft from service indefinitely in order to accomplish the required repairs.”

Four other flights from Cayman Airways were affected Monday due to a schedule change from the rescheduled flight, the airline said.