A United Airlines flight traveling from Chicago to Beijing was forced to make a surprise landing in Alaska earlier this week after a female passenger reportedly tried to commit suicide inside one of the plane’s bathrooms. In a statement on Thursday, the airline said the plane was rerouted "because of a medical emergency.” It added that the passenger had been hospitalized.
According to Agence France-Presse, the woman, whom other passengers described as an Asian woman in her 40s, attempted to hang herself in the restroom.
"Unbelievable ... we were flying UA851 over the North Pole when there was an emergency, [an] economy class passenger hanged herself in the bathroom but was rescued, we were returned to Alaska for emergency landing," one passenger wrote on Weibo, China’s most popular social media site.
"It was a woman in her 40s and of Asian heritage," another passenger added. "A bit later, I heard that the crew were looking for a doctor, and then the plane landed in Alaska to save her."
"A few points to clarify: First, I wasn't sure whether the woman attempted suicide, although my seat was near the toilet. I didn't know something went wrong until the cabin crew called for doctors,” another user wrote, according to Travelers Today. “She did seem abnormal though. When we landed, she was taken off the plane while constantly shouting."
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Another passenger who sat near the woman said that she had been seen having a conversation with a man sitting next to her just before she walked into the restroom, the South China Morning Post reported. United Airlines said that passengers on the flight had been given hotel accommodations overnight and were expected to arrive in Beijing Thursday night at 9:42 p.m.
The airline confirmed that the cause of the diversion had been a suicide attempt, but it did not comment on the woman’s condition or comment further.