Sixteen people were taken to hospital after a United Airlines flight was diverted to Shannon.Getty Images

Sixteen people were taken to hospital after a United Airlines flight, traveling from Houston, Texas, was diverted to Shannon Airport having hit severe turbulence.

Ireland’s Health Service Executive confirmed that ten passengers and two cabin crew were taken to University Hospital Limerick. Eleven of these patients have since been discharged.

United Airlines flight UA-880, which was travelling from Texas to London Heathrow airport when the turbulence hit. The plane made a safe emergency landing at Shannon just before 6am. There were 207 passengers and 13 crew on board the Boeing 767-300 jet. The aircraft was 500 kilometers south west of Ireland when the turbulence hit.

The airplane landed safely at Shannon, in County Clare, and the passengers and crew were met by ambulance paramedics.

Shannon Airport.

Shannon Airport.

Passengers told the Evening Standard that the unexpected turbulence sent people “flying” through the cabin.

Nikki Hartin Boriack (38) said children were among those people thrown six feet when the airplane plummeted. She described how people hit the ceiling of the plane and how they suffered cuts and bruises to their heads. She also claimed that some passengers broke bones.

“We were at least three hours into the flight, everybody had eaten and was asleep,” Boriack told the Evening Standard.

“It was very quiet. There seemed to be lots of children on the flight.

“Then out of the blue the plane just dropped and everybody who was unbuckled went flying.”

Boriack, a dance and cheerleading coach, from Texas, was flying to Cork via Heathrow, to meet friends.

Boriack said “Everybody hit their heads on the roof, the girl next to me was thrown from her seat.

“The flight attendant across from me, she slammed her head. She’ll need stitches.”

She said the plane plummeted twice and that during the second fall many of the passengers were screaming.

“Each drop lasted a couple of seconds. There was a loud bang. We assumed it was something in the galley.

“That was when everybody got really scared.

“The worst part was during the second drop – people were screaming. I had to keep my cool.

“It felt like a rollercoaster. The drops were that long.

“I was very scared, but other people were screaming.”

Boriack claims there was no warning given to the passengers and that the pilot did not address passengers until five minutes after the incident.

“He just said it was very unexpected turbulence. He said normally they see the warning signs and go around it,” she said.

On Twitter another passenger wrote:

A spokesperson for United Airlines said “United Airlines is providing care and support to customers and crew of flight UA880 which experienced severe and unexpected turbulence during a flight from Houston to London Heathrow today.

"The aircraft diverted to Shannon Airport in Ireland where it was met by medical personnel.

"We wish these passengers and crew a quick recovery from their injuries."

They continued “A total of 12 people were transported to hospital, nine adults and three children. Two of the 12 were crew members. The casualties in the main presented with soft tissue injuries, minor head injuries and lacerations.

"As of 10.30am on Wednesday, one patient was still being assessed and the remaining 11 were discharged. Hospital staff are working with the airline to transport the passengers back to Shannon Airport to continue their onward journey to London."