Passengers experience 'violent shaking' before flight returns to Australia

A Malaysia Airlines plane landed safely in an Australian Outback city after the plane shook violently mid-flight and passengers braced themselves for a hard landing.

Flight 122 had been heading from Sydney to Kuala Lumpur and was over the northwest Australian coastal town of Broome when it turned back on Thursday.

It landed safely in Alice Springs and the airline said "safety was not at any time compromised".

"We suddenly experienced a very violent shaking of the aircraft and that probably lasted about five minutes and it was coming from one of the engines," passenger Hugh Wolton told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

"We got a call from the captain on the deck describing how to make plans for an emergency landing, you know, the wording used things like 'impact,' so we were suddenly bracing ourselves for a rough landing."

Passenger Peter Brooks said the captain announced there would be "a couple of impacts" and some passengers thought the plane would come down in the desert.

But about 45 minutes later the captain said they would land in Alice Springs, he said.

The airline said the Airbus A330-300 plane experienced a "technical fault" in one of its two engines and the pilot decided to divert the flight.

Passenger Cath Cat said the landing was ultimately smooth.

"We were aware of a sudden shuddering noise and then we were told to prepare for an emergency landing and there were instructions," Ms Cat told Nine Network television.

The Malaysia Airlines Flight 122 on the tarmac in Alice Springs, Australia. Pic: Australian Broadcasting Corporation via AP

"But later - fairly rapidly actually - the pilot said that the situation was under control and that we were returning to Alice Springs and although it was an emergency landing technically, it was going to be like a commercial landing, which in fact happened and we were all very grateful for that."

The airline said passengers would be flown to Kuala Lumpur today.

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