One Dead, Dozens Hurt in Severe Turbulence Aboard Singapore Flight

May 22, 2024
Seven people were critically injured in the incident that left the cabin littered with broken debris.

Benedikt von Imhoff



London — One person died and more than 50 others were injured in severe turbulence during a Singapore Airlines flight from London to Singapore, the carrier said on Tuesday.

Data from the FlightRadar24 website suggested the aircraft suddenly descended by about 1,800 metres over the west coast of Myanmar. The rainy season has begun in the region and there have been severe storms in many places there.

The Boeing 777-300ER departed from London on Monday and encountered severe turbulence en route.

It had to be diverted to Bangkok where it landed on Tuesday at 3:45 pm ( 0845 GMT), the airline said in an updated post on Facebook.

The person who died was a 73-year-old man from Britain who probably had a heart attack, the BBC reported later.

Seven people are in a critical condition, including the victim's wife, the head of Bangkok's international airport, Kittipong Kittikachorn, said during a press conference there, according to the BBC report.

The aircraft was carrying 211 passengers and 18 crew members. A total of 53 passengers were injured, including a crew member, the BBC reported, citing airport officials.

Singapore Airlines said the flight encountered “sudden extreme turbulence” over Myanmar’s Irrawaddy Basin at 37,000 feet (11,300 metres) about 10 hours after departure, with the pilot declaring a medical emergency and diverting the plane, according to PA news agency.

One of the passengers on board Flight SQ321 to Singapore said the plane suffered a “dramatic drop,” meaning people not wearing a seatbelt were “launched immediately into the ceiling."

Andrew Davis, a passenger from London, told the BBC that the seat-belt sign came on, he followed the instruction, and “at that very moment, the plane suddenly dropped.”

“The thing I remember the most is seeing objects and things flying through the air," he said.

“I was covered in coffee. It was incredibly severe turbulence.”

He heard “awful screaming” as the plane was dropping, and what “sounded like a thud.”

Images posted on social media showed damage to the ceiling of the cabin, and food, cutlery and other debris strewn on the floor in the aftermath of the incident.

In an update published on social media on Tuesday afternoon, Singapore Airlines said: “The nationalities of the passengers are as follows: 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 United States of America.”

Most of the passengers were expected to continue their journey to Singapore on another aircraft, which was sent to Bangkok specially for that purpose.

The airline extended "its deepest condolences" to the deceased's family.

The airline said it is working with the local authorities in Thailand to provide medical assistance. A team is also on its way to Bangkok.

The rainy season has recently begun in South-East Asia. Recently, there have been repeated severe storms in the region, including heavy rainfall in Bangkok on Tuesday.

©2024 dpa GmbH. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.