Passengers recall American Airlines flight tearing apart in mid- - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Passengers recall American Airlines flight tearing apart in mid-air

(CBS photo) (CBS photo)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA (CBS) -

Terrifying moments were reported by passengers on board an American Airlines flight Monday.

They said the Boeing 757 left San Francisco bound for Dallas and literally came apart in mid-air.

Just an hour into the flight, it had to turn around. Now federal investigators are trying to figure out how it happened.

"All of a sudden you hear this ‘pop pop pop pop' and a ripping sound,” one passenger said. “It sounded like we were going to lose the front part of the plane."

The sound was Flight 2293's cabin walls tearing open.

"It was terrifying,” the passenger said. “We didn't know what was going on. We were all shouting come look at [this], the walls are caving in."

The aircraft took off around 1 p.m. Shortly afterward, witnesses on board described the body of the plane shaking violently as wall panels blew off.

One passenger said nearly 45 minutes went by before the pilot decided to turn around head back to San Francisco.

“I'd like to clear the active runway and have the [someone] take a look at me real quick on the left and right sides of the airplane,” the pilot said to the flight tower.

The plane landed safely and none of the 190 people aboard were hurt.

American Airlines said in a statement that the emergency had been caused by a blown air duct.

“There was no loss of pressure in the cabin and no oxygen masks were deployed,” it said.

"I was scared,” another passenger said. “I wasn't really sure we were going to make it. But a little prayer, we made it."

© 2014 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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