Toronto-bound flight forced to make abrupt turn out of Ukrainian airspace

The passengers of a Toronto-bound flight from Israel will have a harrowing story to tell after their plane had to make an abrupt turn to avoid Ukrainian airspace on Thursday.

The commercial flight from Tel Aviv was forced to detour over four other countries after Ukrainian airspace was shut down to civilian air traffic following a Russian military invasion. It was one of only two flights tracked over the country at the time.

Passengers on board say they weren’t notified of the detour during the flight and had no idea what exactly occurred until they landed heard the news of Russia’s attack.

“They didn’t say anything on the plane, they just took a different route,” says one passenger after arriving at terminal 3 at Pearson. “When I came off and looked at the news I knew what had happened.”

The flight track for the Israeli El Al Boeing 787 shows the plane making a sharp turn and changing course to detour through Romania, Hungary and Slovakia before getting back on course over Poland. The plane landed safely at Pearson Airport at 6:44 a.m.

Another plane flying from Tel Aviv to Los Angeles was forced to reroute its path prior to entering Ukrainian airspace.

The only other aircraft tracked over Ukraine was a U.S. RQ-4B Global Hawk unmanned surveillance plane, which began flying westward early Thursday after Russia put in place flight restrictions over Ukrainian territory.

Airspace over all of Ukraine was shut down after Russian troops launched a wide-ranging attack on Thursday.

Ukraine’s leadership said at least 40 people have been killed so far in what it called a “full-scale war” targeting the country from the east, north and south.

With files from The Associated Press

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