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Passengers panic over false crash alarm

By A. Pawlowski, CNN
updated 3:47 PM EST, Tue January 17, 2012
The announcement was played as the plane was passing over the Atlantic Ocean on its way to London.
The announcement was played as the plane was passing over the Atlantic Ocean on its way to London.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Passengers say the recorded announcement was played about 3 hours into the flight
  • "This is an emergency, we will shortly be making an emergency landing on water," voice said
  • Airline: Cabin crew canceled the announcement immediately and reassured passengers

(CNN) -- British Airways is apologizing to passengers of a trans-Atlantic flight after a recorded message announcing the plane was about to make an emergency landing in the ocean was mistakenly played over the intercom.

The incident, which happened on a flight from Miami to London late Friday, caused panic in the cabin.

Passengers told British newspapers that about three hours into the journey, a recorded voice suddenly announced: "This is an emergency, we will shortly be making an emergency landing on water."

In fact, the flight was proceeding normally, but the frightening message led passengers to assume the worst.

"We looked at each other and figured we were both about to die. Families with children were distraught and people were in tears. It was very distressing," passenger Duncan Farquharson told The Telegraph.

"About 30 seconds later, one of the cabin crew told us to ignore the announcement. ... Imagining yourself plunging towards a cold, watery grave in the middle of the Atlantic is a pretty horrific thought, but they seemed very blasé about it."

British Airways isn't saying whether a technical glitch or human error caused the recording to play.

"The cabin crew canceled the announcement immediately and reassured customers that the flight was operating normally," the airline said in a statement.

"We apologized to customers for causing them undue concern."

The plane landed safely at its destination.

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