One dead and at least 71 injured after severe turbulence hits Singapore Airlines flight

One dead and at least 71 injured after severe turbulence hits Singapore Airlines flight By A Robin - May 23, 2024
Singapore Airlines flight

Singapore Airlines flight

One passenger died and 71 people were injured when their Singapore Airlines flight from London to Singapore encountered severe turbulence Tuesday, throwing passengers and crew around the cabin and forcing the plane to make an emergency landing in Bangkok.

The Boeing 777-300ER was about 10 hours into its flight and midway through meal service when it hit turbulence while flying over Myanmar’s Irrawaddy Basin, according to the airline.

Andrew Davies, a passenger onboard flight SQ321 who was traveling to New Zealand for business, told CNN’s Erin Burnett that it had been a “perfectly normal” flight when the seatbelt sign came on and seconds later “all hell broke loose.”

“The plane just felt like it dropped. It probably only lasted a few seconds but I remember vividly seeing shoes and iPads and iPhones and cushions and blankets and cutlery and plates and cups flying through the air and crashing to the ceiling. The gentleman next to me had a cup of coffee, which went straight all over me and up to the ceiling,” Davies said.

Davies said he realized the “gravity” of the turbulence when he turned around, describing several passengers with gashes on their heads, including one with “blood pouring down her face” and an elderly passenger in “severe shock.”

“There was so much screaming,” he said.

Video and images from inside the aircraft showed the extent of the damage, with overhead compartments smashed open and emergency oxygen air masks hanging down from the ceiling. A photo of one galley showed a section of the ceiling open with parts of the plane’s interior hanging down. Trays, containers, plastic bottles and hot beverage pots can be seen strewn across the floor.

A 73-year-old British man died in the incident from a suspected heart condition, the General Manager of Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport Kittipong Kittikachorn said Tuesday, adding that the autopsy process was still ongoing.

The man was later identified as Geoff Kitchen, who was described as “always a gentleman with the utmost honesty and integrity” by the Thornbury Musical Theatre Group (TMTG), an establishment where he worked for over 35 years.

The British Foreign Office told CNN it was supporting the family of a British passenger who died on a Singapore Airlines flight.

Davies, who was seated toward the front of the plane, said he helped tend to Kitchen, who was seated behind him.

“Lots of people needed some help but we tended to this gentleman and I helped carry him, get him out of the seat, and we lay him on the floor so that some medical profession(als) could administer CPR,” Davies said, adding the passenger was administered CPR for about 20 minutes.”

The Samitivej Srinakarin Hospital in Bangkok, which received the injured passengers, said at least 71 people were injured, with six severely. Those injured include citizens of Malaysia, the UK, New Zealand, Spain, the US and Ireland.

Kittikachorn, who inspected the aircraft, said some injured passengers sustained broken arms.

The flight, carrying 211 passengers and 18 crew, had left London’s Heathrow Airport around 10:30 p.m. local time, according to online flight trackers. It was bound for Singapore’s Changi Airport, however the aircraft was diverted to Bangkok where it landed at 3:45 p.m. local time, according to the airline.

Video filmed after Singapore Airlines SQ321 was diverted to Bangkok shows a passenger being carried from the aircraft on a stretcher by emergency responders.

Kittikachorn said that following the landing in Bangkok almost 200 travelers were waiting to take onward flights to their destinations. A Singapore Airlines plane carrying 131 of the 211 passengers later departed Bangkok for Singapore, he said.

Singapore Airlines CEO Goh Choon Phong said in a statement that the airline is “providing all possible assistance and support” to the passengers and their families.

“On behalf of Singapore Airlines, I would like to express my deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of the deceased passenger. We also deeply apologize for the trauma experienced by all passengers and crew members on this flight,” he said.

Singapore’s Ministry of Transport said in a statement that it was investigating the situation involving flight SQ321 and the US National Transportation Safety Board is sending personnel to Singapore to help support the investigation.


By A Robin - May 23, 2024

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