16 passengers were treated in hospital for earache in France after a Ryanair flight was forced to make an emergency landing.

Ryanair confirmed that the flight from Bristol to Girona was forced to make an unscheduled landing in Limoges last night following a loss of cabin pressure.

Ryanair Chief Executive Michael O'Leary said the correct safety procedures were followed and the oxygen masks had worked properly.

The plane was travelling to Girona near Barcelona when it experienced a sudden loss of cabin pressure.

It caused the oxygen masks on board to deploy and the captain was forced to make a rapid descent.

The plane landed at Limoges International Airport at around 10.30pm Irish time as a safety precaution, Ryanair said.

Passengers complained they were not informed of what was happening.

Treated passengers depart on coach

But Ryanair argued the cabin crew could not use the public address system while using oxygen masks.

127 passengers who wished to continue their journey were taken on another flight which landed in Girona at 2.30am local time.

The 16 injured passengers were transferred to a local hospital together with five family members and examined overnight.

Emergency services said the ear problems were minor and they have all since been discharged.

Remaining passengers departed on a coach to Girona that left Limoges at 11.45am this morning.

Police said the jet came down 8,000m in five minutes but that an initial inspection of the plane had not revealed any causes for the depressurisation.

Ryanair says its engineers who inspected the aircraft overnight confirmed that the oxygen masks which deployed were working properly.

It says it has notified the Irish and French aviation authorities and that a full investigation will be undertaken today.