File picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi

Johannesburg -

Eighteen of the 20 people who were injured when a South African Airways flight from Johannesburg to Hong Kong hit severe turbulence have been discharged from hospital, the airline said on Wednesday.

“The two passengers who sustained serious injuries remain in hospital for observation,” SAA spokesman Tlali Tlali said in a statement.

It was earlier reported that the seriously injured people were taken to the Prince Margaret Hospital and the North Lantau Hospital in Hong Kong.

The plane hit turbulence in Kuala Lumpur's airspace. It landed safely in Hong Kong at 6.30am South African time (12.30pm Hong Kong time).

The interior panels of the aircraft were damaged in the incident.

SAfm reported that the national carrier said it would assist all those affected in the incident, including staff.

It was unclear when they would return to South Africa.

“SAA further advises that due to the incident involving SA286, Flight SA287 from Hong Kong to Johannesburg on 16 July has been delayed,” Tlali said. - Sapa