Heavy turbulence kills one with dozens injured on Singapore Airlines flight

Heavy turbulence kills one with dozens injured on Singapore Airlines flight
Edited by Travel Weekly


    A British grandfather is dead and dozens are now in hospitals in Bangkok, including eight Australians, after a flight from the UK to Singapore hit severe turbulence, plunging 1,800 metres (6,000 feet) in a few minutes.

    Passengers onboard the Singapore Airlines plane told of the “dramatic drop”, which launched those not wearing a seatbelt into the cabin ceiling, resulting in the 73-year-old British passenger’s death, with several others critically injured, and leaving many others with head wounds and broken limbs and bleeding flight staff, surrounded by debris scattered around the cabin.

    Singapore Airlines flight SQ321 took off from London Heathrow on Monday night (early yesterday AEDT) before it hit clear air turbulence – which is harder to detect or forecast – and was diverted to Bangkok where it landed yesterday afternoon.

    The airline said the Star Alliance liveried Boeing 777 was carrying 211 passengers – including 56 Australians, plus passengers from Britain, New Zealand and Singapore – and 18 crew.

    “Flight SQ321 encountered sudden extreme turbulence over the Irrawaddy basin … The pilot declared a medical emergency and diverted the aircraft to Bangkok,” the airline said in a statement.

    “Singapore Airlines offers its deepest condolences to the family of the deceased. We deeply apologise for the traumatic experience that our passengers and crew members suffered on this flight. We are providing all necessary assistance during this difficult time. We are working with our colleagues and the local authorities in Thailand to provide the necessary assistance.”

    The deceased passenger has been identified as Geoffrey Kitchen, 73, from Thornbury, Gloucestershire, a retired insurance professional.

    Kitchen and his wife were on their way to a holiday in Australia via Singapore. Thai authorities sated that he had a heart condition and likely died of a heart attack.

    Airports of Thailand general manager Kittipong Kittikachorn confirmed the death and said seven others were in a critical condition, mostly with head injuries. Twenty-three passengers, plus one crew member, had less severe injuries, he told of a press conference.

    “The incident happened during meal service, about two to three hours before the flight was due to land in Singapore,” he added. “It was probably during breakfast service. Most of the passengers had fastened their seatbelts.”

    Emergency services met the plane at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport. A local police officer at Samitivej Srinakarin hospital in Bangkok, where the injured were brought, said he had seen about 70 wounded people, including some with very minor conditions. Some patients requested to be taken to another hospital. One man was brought out on a stretcher to be transferred via ambulance. Another was brought out in a wheelchair.

    Injured passengers met by fleet on ambulances

    Terrified passengers were met by a fleet of ambulances ion the tarmac at Suvarnabhumi airport.

    “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 a seatbelt was launched immediately into the ceiling,” passenger Dzafran Azmir told Reuters.

    “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.”

    Another passenger told BBC Radio 5 Live: “During the few seconds of the plane dropping there was an awful screaming and what sounded like a thud.”

    He said he had helped a woman “screaming in agony” who had a “gash on her head”.

    Another told of passengers who had been walking around the cabin “doing somersaults” during the tubulence.

    Boeing ‘ready to support’ passengers

    Singapore Airlines released details of the passenger manifest which confirmed the passengers onboard as 56 from Australia, two from Canada, one from Germany, three from India, two from Indonesia, one from Iceland, four from Ireland, one from Israel, 16 from Malaysia, two from Myanmar, 23 from New Zealand, five from the Philippines, 41 from Singapore, one from South Korea, two from Spain, 47 from the United Kingdom and four from the US.

    Boeing, manufacturer of the 777-300 aircraft , said it “stood ready to support” Singapore Airlines.

    Boeing added: “We extend our deepest condolences to the family who lost a loved one, and our thoughts are with the passengers and crew.”

    Deaths caused by turbulence are extremely rare on international scheduled flights. But severe injuries during turbulence are not uncommon.

    Latest News

    • Cruise

    Cruise Traveller’s new Scottish Highlands cruise tour package

    Australian small ship cruising specialist, Cruise Traveller, offers a 20-night land and sea holiday in the UK aboard the Lord of the Glens. The tiny cruise line’s 52-guest boutique vessel, Lord of the Glens, is purpose-built to explore the intricate waterways and lochs of the Scottish Highlands. It boasts a rich, traditional ambience with polished […]

    • Cruise

    Celebrity Xcel’s keel-laying ceremony in France, with 2025 inaugural sail planned

    Construction has commenced on Celebrity Cruises’ next ship, Celebrity Xcel, with a keel-laying ceremony at the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France. An Edge Series ship, Celebrity Xcel will set sail in autumn 2025, with several new yet-to-be-revealed offerings. At the ceremony, Jason Liberty, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean Group (RCG), the parent […]

    • Destinations
    • Tour Operators

    Globus unveils nine new independent tours for 2025

    Coach touring brand Globus has unveiled nine new independent tours for 2025, from Bangkok to Bali and Abu Dhabi to Nepal. “With Globus Independent tours, our guests are free to enjoy the many benefits of touring, untethered and unscheduled,” APAC head of marketing, Globus family of brands (GFOB), Chris Fundell said. “Providing hand-picked hotel accommodations, […]

    • Hotels

    Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group opens Mandarin Oriental Mayfair

    The Mandarin Oriental has opened a second property in London, the Mandarin Oriental Mayfair, in the heart of historic Hanover Square. Designed by internationally renowned Rogers Stirk Harbour and Partners, the hotel is the first new build in Mayfair in over a decade. Bringing a modern architectural approach to one of London’s most storied squares, […]

    • Hotels

    Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort unveils Coral Kids Club

    On top of its US$85 million (AU$150m) transformation, Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort’s new Coral Kids Club provides an engaging activity centre for kids. Designed for keiki (children), ages 5-12, the activity centre offers daily cultural workshops with hands-on activities rooted around the Āina Guardian workbook. It was developed by Candes Gentry, co-author of Eat […]

    • Hotels

    Minor Hotels announces fourth franchised hotel

    Minor Hotels has added to its portfolio of more than 500 hotels in operation after signing Oaks Melbourne on William Suites as its fourth franchised hotel. The 220-room apartment hotel is the third Oaks property signed under a franchise model after the Oaks Toowoomba and Oaks Townsville Metropole. The proven success of these properties highlights […]

    • Destinations

    Phuket unveils cutting-edge medical facility

    Minor Hotels has announced Layan Life by Anantara, a world-class medical wellness facility that is set to elevate Phuket’s reputation as an international medical wellness destination. The new facility is set across 1,767sqm within the grounds of Anantara Layan Phuket Resort and is set to open in Q3 of this year. It offers a blend […]

    • Events

    Out West Piano Fest comes alive in Bathurst

    The three-day symphony of the senses comes back to Bathurst, at picturesque Blackdown Farm, as Out West Piano Fest returns 25-27 October. Located just five minutes away from Bathurst NSW is a pastoral heritage, art, and culture. It was also once home to Australian artist, Tim Storrier. The extensive gardens in full spring bloom offer […]

    • Attractions
    • Cruise

    Japan in Bloom with Cruise Express

    Send clients out to experience the best of the Land of the Rising Sun with Cruise Express and their Japan in Bloom expedition, a 21-night adventure. As interest in Japan hits an all-time high, Cruise Express is pleased to announce its ultimate Japanese bucket list trip. This adventure is geared for Australians wanting to tick […]

    • Road & Rail

    Explore Uzbekistan with Golden Eagle Luxury Trains

    Golden Eagle Luxury Trains presents an exclusive itinerary to Uzbekistan with ensuite cabins, a personal cabin attendant, and off-train excursions. Travelling aboard the opulent Golden Eagle train, with ensuite cabins, guests will dive deep into Uzbekistan’s spectacularly global cultural identity. A personal cabin attendant, all porterage and gratuities and all off train excursions are included […]