A female passenger died minutes before her 13-hour nonstop flight from Argentina to New Zealand landed on Friday.
Flight NZ31 was less than 10 minutes away from landing at Auckland International Airport when an announcement came on in the cabin asking if there was a doctor onboard, the New Zealand Herald reported.
“A flight attendant- I saw him grab an oxygen tank and he headed to the front of the plane,” Aarti Prasad, a passenger told the New Zealand Herald. “I looked on the screen and it was about eight minutes to landing. They almost made it.”
A call was made around 4:48 a.m. local time to dispatchers at St. Johns Hospital, which sent emergency vehicles and staff to the plane immediately, according to a hospital spokesperson.
The sick passenger appeared to be in her 20s and collapsed at the beginning of the descent, according to Newshub.
“Once we landed, the captain came on the speaker himself ... and said: 'Look, we've just had a medical event. We can't get off. Once we get there, the paramedics are meeting the passenger,'" Prasad said.
All passengers were required to sit on the tarmac for approximately 40 minutes while medical officials and police worked to get the passenger off the plane.
Prasad and other passengers were still unaware there had been a death on the flight until they left the aircraft. The flight staff only referred to the incident as a “serious medical emergency”.
“[The flight captain] was very reassuring to everybody,” Pasad said. “He kept talking to us throughout the whole time we were waiting.”
New Zealand Police told Fox News they received reports of a sudden death prior to arriving on the scene and questioned the people sitting near the woman. The incident is currently being handled by the coroner's office as a non-suspicious death.