NEW YORK (WABC) -- A Delta flight from Milan to JFK diverted to Rome on Monday after the plane was badly damaged shortly after takeoff.
Photos posted by passengers show the nose cone and wing with holes after the plane was reportedly hit by hail.
The flight had 215 passengers onboard, as well as three pilots and eight flight attendants.
Steven Coury, a passenger on the flight, said that about 15 minutes after takeoff, the plane started going through extreme turbulence.
"We take off, it's a normal takeoff, we get into the air a few minutes later, we encounter severe turbulence and we all hear noise we've never heard before," Coury said. "And that was hail pounding on the roof of the plane. One passenger looked out the window and saw the wing shaking violently like it was gonna break off. Look, I saw flashes of light like lightning hitting the plane. And the turbulence was like being on a roller coaster ride dropping significantly."
Coury said the nose of the plane was punched out, potentially damaging the navigation system.
He said both engines were damaged, and one had a hole in it while both wings appeared damaged.
Delta released the following statement:
"Delta flight 185 from Milan to New York-JFK diverted to Rome after experiencing an apparent weather-related maintenance issue shortly after departure. The flight landed safely in Rome where passengers deplaned normally and where maintenance personnel is conducting a thorough evaluation of the aircraft. Delta apologizes for the delay to our customers' journey. The safety of our customers and crew is Delta's top priority."
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