"It was literally like you were sitting on top of a washing machine. The whole thing was going."

Passengers on board an AirAsia flight were told to pray as the plane began violently shaking “like a washing machine.”

Bound for Kuala Lumpur from Perth, AirAsia X flight D7237 was forced to turn back due to a “technical issue”.

Passengers had heard a loud bang from the left engine before the pilot delivered some unnerving advice. Sophie Nicolas told WA Today, “He [the flight captain] said ‘I hope you all say a prayer; I will be saying a prayer too and let’s hope we all get back home safely.’”

Nicolas recalled the “terrifying” experience, “I could just tell by the cabin crew’s reaction that it was really bad,” she said.

“I was crying a lot, a lot of people were crying, trying to call their mums and stuff but we couldn’t really do anything just wait and trust the captain.”

The captain was nonetheless praised by the passengers. “He delivered us home safely which is amazing, everybody burst into applause when we landed,” Nicolas said.

Other passengers say the captain announced that one of the engines had seized before the shaking began.

The flight was forced to turn back to Perth due to a “technical reason” one and a half hours into the trip, with passengers being transferred to a new flight.

The Airbus 330 landed back in Perth about 10:00am. Emergency services arrived on site as a precaution.

Marine services north of Perth were put on standby and were told to prepare for a possible water landing.

Passenger Brenton Atkinson, 24, said the entire plane was shaking far more than standard turbulence.

“It was essentially the engine seized up I think, that’s what they told us anyway,” he said.

“It was literally like you were sitting on top of a washing machine. The whole thing was going. We could see the engine out the window which was really shaken on the wing.”

“Once we landed we realised one of the blades had actually come off the turbine.”

Atkinson praised the professionalism of the crew. “No-one was freaking out too much. It was a bit nervy. [The crew] handled it really well.”

Passenger Tzeyau Chung was on his way home to Kuala Lumpur when he heard an explosion.

“I heard a loud explosion I think on the left-side engine,” he said. “After the explosion it started to shake, it started to bounce, but overall the captain did a very good job.

“Of course we were a bit worried but at the end of the day … we safely landed. I think that is the most important thing.”

Passenger Damos Stevens filmed some of the shaking onboard and praised the pilot for doing a great job. Dave Parry, who was on board with his wife, three children and mother-in-law said he had heard a bang too.

“There was sort of a bang, and you could see the cabin crew were startled, and then a shudder started straight away, and I had a sense the plane was turning around,” he said.

AirAsia said in a statement that the flight that was carrying 359 passengers was forced to turn around for a “technical reason”.