MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – A passenger aboard a Qantas jumbo jet that made an emergency landing after a gaping hole burst open on its fuselage told FOX News she was convinced no one would come out of the "terrifying" ordeal alive.
"I was sure we were going to die," said Dr. June Kane from her home city of Melbourne, Australia, on Saturday, only about 24 hours after the frightening incident.
Australian investigators examined the Boeing 747-700 Saturday to try to determine what caused the fuselage to rupture at 29,000 feet. After maneuvering the jetliner into a steep controlled dive to get the plane to an altitude where people could breathe more easily, the pilot landed the plane safely at the Manila airport in the Philippines.
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There were no injuries among the 346 passengers and crew, but some fliers suffered nausea.
Kane was on the second leg of the journey from London to Melbourne when she described hearing a heart-stopping boom about 45 minutes after the flight took off from its stopover in Hong Kong.
The crew was serving dinner and Kane was standing talking to another passenger when there was a sudden loud bang and "bits of debris and newspapers and magazines flew between us," she told FOX News on Saturday. She said the aircraft didn't drop or even shudder much from the impact.
The two looked at each other "with very wide eyes," Kane remembered. That's when the crew shouted for passengers to return to their seats and put on their oxygen masks. Shortly thereafter, the plane began its rapid descent.
"It was absolutely terrifying, but more than anything we were stunned," Kane told FOX. "There was a stunned silence. Everyone was very calm then, and we were just wondering what was happening and waiting to get instructions."
There was some confusion over how to use the oxygen masks, she said. A few passengers pulled them so hard that they dislodged from the ceiling.
One passenger captured several minutes of the scene on board Qantas Flight 30 on a video camera.
Ruben Ciron, chief of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, said four specialists from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau were still inspecting the aircraft to determine what caused the damage.
Qantas Chief Executive Officer Geoff Dixon told reporters Saturday he was "horrified" after seeing pictures of the aircraft's 9-foot-wide hole. He said it was too early to speculate what caused the fuselage to puncture.
"There are thousands of aircraft flying around the world today, things happen. Something has happened here and we cannot speculate any more about what did happen," Dixon said.
Passengers on QF 30, en route to Melbourne from London said that after the explosive bang, their ears popped as air rushed out through the opening on the aircraft.
After disembarking, they saw the cavernous hole at the joint where the front of the right wing attaches to the plane. Luggage from the cargo hold strained against the webbing used to keep it from shifting during a flight.
The passengers boarded another Qantas plane to Melbourne before midnight Friday.
An official of the U.S. Transportation Security Administration said initial reports indicated no link to terrorism.
Kane said Qantas crew were "fabulous." The pilot told passengers what he was doing at each step of the way during the emergency landing.
"We felt we were in good hands," she said. "It wasn't that terrifying thing where you just don't know anymore."
Once the flight had safely touched down in Manila, airline staff took passengers to hotels, fed them, kept them informed with briefings and notes under their doors and even assigned about one ground staff member for every passenger to offer assistance. The airline flew trauma specialists to Manila who then returned to Melbourne with those who'd been on board QF 30, according to Kane.
The airline is keeping passengers' bags until the investigation is complete, she said.
Peter Gibson, spokesman for Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority, said speculation that rust contributed to the accident could be discounted.
"It's clearly an extremely rare and unusual event that a hole opens up in the fuselage," he told reporters in Australia. "I know there's a number of theories around, but they're just that at this stage, they're just theories. We don't have the solid facts."
Quoting pilot John Francis Bartels, the Manila International Airport Authority, said an initial investigation showed the aircraft suffered from "explosive decompression."
Boeing spokeswoman Liz Verdier said it was too soon to determine what caused the hole, but the company was providing technical assistance as part of an investigation led by the National Transportation Safety Board.
Verdier said the company was sending an investigator and three engineers to help in the probe.
Kane, for her part, said she has to fly again in about four days.
"I'm having some second thoughts at the moment," she told FOX.
FOX News' Catherine Donaldson-Evans and The Associated Press contributed to this report.