A flight attendant who said she was nearly dragged through a gaping hole in a jumbo jet and a passenger who suffered ear injuries filed the first lawsuits stemming from the tragedy aboard United Airlines Flight 811.

Melvin Belli, the flamboyant San Francisco attorney, is co-counsel in one of the lawsuits filed against United Airlines and Boeing Co. on Wednesday, five days after the accident.Nine people were hurled to their deaths when the Boeing 747 bound for New Zealand blew open shortly after takeoff from Honolulu. Twenty-seven others were treated for injuries in what one crew member said was "unbelievable horror."

"I felt like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz when her house gets picked up and everything gets blown away," purser Sarah Shanahan said in an interview published Wednesday in The Honolulu Star-Bulletin.