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Plane from NY to Ecuador makes emergency landing in SC because of ill passenger

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NORTH CHARLESTON, South Carolina — A passenger suffering shortness of breath prompted a commercial airline flight from New York to Ecuador to make an emergency landing at Joint Base Charleston.

The TAME Airlines Airbus A330-200 with 70 passengers and 9 crew members aboard diverted to Charleston early Tuesday, Charleston International Airport spokeswoman Charlene Gunnells said.

The base was notified shortly after 2 a.m. that the flight from New York's John F. Kennedy Airport was diverting because a woman passenger was having breathing problems, Gunnells said.

Joint Base Charleston shares runways with the Charleston International Airport. The air base handled the emergency stop because there are no flights scheduled at the commercial airport between midnight and 4 a.m., so they have no ground crews available, officials said.

U.S. Air Force emergency personnel and Charleston County Emergency Medical Services provided medical attention for the passenger. Gunnells said they advised the woman that she should be taken to a local hospital for observation but she declined and remained on the flight. The aircraft was refueled and left Charleston about 4:30 a.m.

Gunnells said that aircraft diversions occur for a number of reasons, including medical emergencies. Last year, there were 34 diversions to Charleston and there have been seven so far this year.

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