Severe Turbulence on Singapore Airlines Flight Was So Bad It Killed a Passenger


At least one passenger was killed and dozens more were hurt—some seriously—when a Singapore Airlines flight from London to Singapore encountered severe turbulence, according to reports.

Flight SQ321 was forced to divert to Bangkok after the Boeing 777-300ER got into trouble. In a statement, the airline confirmed that “there are injuries and one fatality on board,” adding: “Singapore Airlines offers its deepest condolences to the family of the deceased.”

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The airline also confirmed that 211 passengers and 18 crew were on board the plane, which landed in Bangkok at 3:35 p.m. local time on Tuesday. It departed from the British capital on Monday evening.

Authorities in Bangkok said the deceased was a 73-year-old British man who likely suffered a heart attack. Another 53 passengers were injured, according to the BBC. A total of 30 people were hospitalized, while seven people were left in critical condition. The wife of the man who died was among those taken to a hospital, the broadcaster reports, but her condition isn’t clear.

One British person who was on the plane told the BBC the turbulence hit around 10 hours into the flight. He said people were walking around in the cabin and “there was no sign to put the seatbelts on,” when disaster struck.

“It went from no turbulence to this one turbulence. No plane shaking at all and then I was hitting the roof,” the man said. He said his son was also “thrown down on the floor two rows behind me,” and he’d heard “there was a guy hitting the roof in the toilet and he was injured quite badly, too.”

In an update, Singapore Airlines said the aircraft had encountered “sudden extreme turbulence over the Irrawaddy Basin at 37,000 feet.” “The pilot declared a medical emergency and diverted the aircraft to Bangkok,” the update added.

As well as reiterating its condolences to the deceased man’s family, the airline further apologized “for the traumatic experience that our passengers and crew members suffered on this flight.”

Dzafran Azmir, a 28-year-old student who was on the flight, told Reuters that the plane tilted upward before “suddenly there was a very dramatic drop so everyone seated and not wearing a seatbelt was launched immediately into the ceiling.”

“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,” Azmir said.

Another passenger, Andrew Davies from London, similarly described a scene of carnage. “There was a poor lady with an awful deep gash on her head and a man who wasn’t looking responsive at all,” he told The Times. “Everywhere you looked there was another injury.”

Davies added that “a call went out for people who were medically trained to help.” “I assisted in getting [a] passenger onto the floor so they could do CPR,” he said. “Then the announcement was made that we were diverting to Bangkok. Belongings had gone everywhere, there was glass on the floor. Everyone was in shock.”

The 16-year-old Boeing 777 had been stored in December 2021 amid the COVID-19 pandemic and was back in passenger service for less than a month before the incident, Simple Flying reports.

Chee Hong Tat, Singapore’s transport minister, said he was “deeply saddened to learn about the incident” and said that officials from his ministry, Singapore’s foreign ministry, Civil Aviation Authority, and Changi Airport were all now providing support to affected passengers and their families. “My deepest condolences to the family of the deceased,” he added.

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