"The panic was escalated because of the behaviour of the staff"

Passengers aboard an AirAsia flight panicked as staff began screaming when the aircraft plummeted 20,000 feet.

CNN reports that an AirAsiaFlight QZ535 from Perth to Bali plummeted 34,000 feet to 10,000 feet in minutes after losing cabin pressure.

Passengers on board the flight, which eventually turned back and landed safely in Perth, panicked even more as the flight crew began screaming.

“The panic was escalated because of the behavior of the staff, who were screaming and looked tearful and shocked,” passenger Clare Askew told CNN affiliate Seven News Australia.

“We look to them for reassurance and we didn’t get any. We were more worried because of how panicked they were,” she said.

Video footage from inside the plane shows that oxygen masks were deployed as cabin crew shouted for passengers to “get down”.

“They went hysterical. There was no real panic before that. Then everyone panicked,” said passenger, Mark Bailey.

In an email, AirAsia told CNN that the flight was diverted following a “technical issue”.

“We commend our pilots for landing the aircraft safely and complying with standard operating procedure,” Capt. Ling Liong Tien, AirAsia Group’s head of safety, said in the statement. “We are fully committed to the safety of our guests and crew and we will continue to ensure that we adhere to the highest safety standards.”

The aircraft is currently being examined.

Earlier this year, AirAsia passengers were told “to pray” by the captain as the plane began shaking violently.