World News

One person killed, 30 injured after London-Singapore flight hit by severe turbulence

A 73-year-old British grandfather was killed and more than 30 others were injured after a Singapore Airlines Boeing flight hit severe turbulence Tuesday — plunging 6,000 feet and sending unrestrained travelers crashing into overhead bins.

The Boeing 777-300ER jet carrying 211 passengers and 18 crew was headed to Singapore from London when it was forced to make an emergency landing in Bangkok at 3:45 p.m. local time, the airline said.

“Singapore Airlines offers its deepest condolences to the family of the deceased,” the airline said in a statement. “We deeply apologize for the traumatic experience that our passengers and crew members suffered on this flight.”

One person died on the Singapore Airlines flight. REUTERS
Interior of Singapore Airline flight SG321 filled with debris after an emergency landing at Suvarnabhumi International Airport, Thailand. REUTERS

The man who died was identified as Geoff Kitchen — a grandfather from Gloucestershire who was just beginning a dream six-week vacation to Asia and Australia with his wife, Linda.

Kitchen, an amateur actor and former insurance worker, died of a heart attack.

Interior of Singapore Airline flight SG321 with visible ceiling pipes and wires after an emergency landing at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport. REUTERS
Emergency personnel attending to injured passengers and damaged cabin after a severe turbulence incident on a Singapore Airlines flight. Reuters

It was not immediately clear if he died on board the plane or after being rushed to the hospital upon landing in Thailand.

Terrified passengers have detailed the chaos on board, saying those who weren’t wearing seatbelts were launched into the ceiling when the plane dropped abruptly.  

Everything we know so far about the London-Singapore flight that killed 1, injured 30

“Suddenly the aircraft starts tilting up and there was shaking so I started bracing for what was happening, and very suddenly there was a very dramatic drop so everyone seated and not wearing seatbelt was launched immediately into the ceiling,” said Dzafran Azmir, a 28-year-old student on board the flight.

“Some people hit their heads on the baggage cabins overhead and dented it, they hit the places where lights and masks are and broke straight through it.”

Damaged overhead cabins and injured passengers being carried out on stretchers after emergency landing of Singapore Airlines flight. ViralPress

Another passenger, Andrew Davies, said there was little warning before the chaos erupted.  

“Lots of people injured – including the air stewards who were stoic and did everything they could,” he tweeted. 

“Very little warning. The seatbelt sign came on, I put on my seatbelt straightaway then the plane just dropped.”

Damaged airplane cabin with exposed wires after an emergency landing caused by severe turbulence. ViralPress
The Singapore-bound Boeing 777-300ER was diverted to Bangkok and landed at 15:45 local (08:00 GMT). Flightaware
Passengers inside the damaged airplane amidst an emergency landing situation. Reuters

“People’s belongings scattered, coffee and water splattered the ceiling. Surreal. So many injured people. Head lacerations, bleeding ears. A lady was screaming in pain with a bad back. I couldn’t help her,” he added.

Photos circulating online showed food and debris strewn throughout the aircraft in the aftermath of the turbulence, as well as huge dents in the overhead bins.

Other images broadcast by local news outlets showed terrified passengers clinging to their seats with oxygen masks hanging from above.

Roughly 11 hours into the flight, FlightRadar24 tracking data showed the Boeing jet sharply dropping from an altitude of about 37,000 feet to 31,000 feet within just five minutes as it flew over the Andaman Sea.

The plane stayed at 31,000 feet for roughly 10 minutes before rapidly descending into Bangkok, the tracking data show.

Local emergency crews from the Samitivej Srinakarin Hospital rushed to the scene to transfer injured people from the runway to undergo treatment.

Footage from the airport showed ambulances streaming to the site as passengers disembarked the plane.

The extent of the injuries wasn’t immediately clear but airport officials said dozens were hospitalized in the aftermath.

Responders arrive after the plane’s emergency landing in Thailand.
Interior of Singapore Airline flight SG321 with row of seats and medical equipment hanging from the ceiling, following an emergency landing at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport, May 21, 2024. REUTERS
Footage shows ambulances racing toward the runway after a person died on the flight. ViralPress

Eighteen people were still hospitalized in the hours after landing, while another 12 were being treated on outpatient basis, according to Singapore Airlines.

“Our priority is to provide all possible assistance to all passengers and crew on board the aircraft,” the airline said.

“We are working with the local authorities in Thailand to provide the necessary medical assistance, and sending a team to Bangkok to provide any additional assistance needed.”

With Post wires