A Delta Air Lines flight from Milan to New York was forced to make an emergency landing in Rome on Monday when the plane was pummeled by hail shortly after takeoff.
The aircraft took off from Milan Malpensa Airport at around 3:40 p.m. CEST, according to FlightAware. The aircraft had 215 passengers, three pilots and eight flight attendants onboard.
About 15 minutes into the flight, the plane started to experience “severe turbulence” and passengers heard a “noise we’ve never heard before,” a passenger from the flight told ABC News.
“And that was hail pounding on the roof of the plane,” he continued. “One passenger looked out the window and saw the wing shaking violently like it was gonna break off. Look, I saw flashes of light like lightning hitting the plane. And the turbulence was like being on a roller coaster ride dropping significantly.”
When the aircraft landed in Rome, all passengers deplaned normally and the plane underwent an evaluation, according to a Delta spokesperson.
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The plane was damaged on its nose and body near the wings in “an apparent weather-related maintenance issue.”
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“Delta apologizes for the delay to our customers’ journey,” said the airline’s spokesperson. “The safety of our customers and crew is Delta’s top priority.”
Europe has been experiencing severe weather this summer. After a record-breaking heatwave in Rome, towns in northern Italy were reportedly hit by hail as big as tennis balls.
Kathleen Wong is a travel reporter for USA TODAY based in Hawaii. You can reach her at email@example.com