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Emirates airline officials say 10 passengers fell ill on flight that landed at JFK

Posted: 10:12 AM, Sep 05, 2018
Updated: 2018-09-05 14:53:07Z

Federal health officials met a plane landing at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Wednesday after passengers reported feeling ill, according to sources.

Emirates Flight 203, which originated in Dubai, was carrying about 500 passengers and landed around 9:06 a.m. ET, a source said.

"I asked the (flight attendant) for a mask before we even took off, but there was none available," passenger Erin Sykes said from the plane. "It was so obvious that a large number of people were ill well before take-off."

The flight was a smooth one, Sykes said, so she didn't believe the ailments were related to turbulence or air sickness.

"People were coughing the whole time. Now some people have fevers over 100," she said. "They should never had been allowed to board."

While a source with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said as many as 100 passengers reported feeling ill, the airline said only about 10 passengers had "taken ill."

"As a precaution, they were immediately checked by local health authorities and those needing medical attention will be attended to," Emirates said in a statement. "All other passengers will be disembarking shortly."

Port authority spokesman Scott Ladd referred questions to the state Department of Health, but he did confirm health officials were on the scene. Health department officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

The plane was taken to a "hard standing area," where paramedics and officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were responding to the scene, the source said.

The CDC said it was aware passengers "are reporting an unspecified illness" aboard an Emirates flight and health officials are working with local authorities to investigate the cause.