Singapore Airlines flight hits severe turbulence, one passenger dead, dozens injured

singapore airlines flight hits severe turbulence, one passenger dead, dozens injured

The interior of Singapore Airline flight SG321 is pictured after an emergency landing at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi International Airport, Thailand, May 21, 2024. REUTERS/Stringer

By Chayut Setboonsarng and Panu Wongcha-um

BANGKOK (Reuters) -One passenger died of a suspected heart attack and 30 injured after a Singapore Airlines flight hit severe turbulence on Tuesday, flinging passengers and crew around the cabin and forcing the plane to land in Bangkok, officials and the airline said.

singapore airlines flight hits severe turbulence, one passenger dead, dozens injured

A Singapore airline aircraft is seen on tarmac after requesting an emergency landing at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi International Airport, Thailand, May 21, 2024. Pongsak Suksi/Handout via REUTERS

The flight from London and bound for Singapore fell into an air pocket while cabin crew were serving breakfast before it encountered turbulence, prompting the pilots to request an emergency landing, Bangkok Suvarnabhumi airport general manager Kittipong Kittikachorn told a press conference.

singapore airlines flight hits severe turbulence, one passenger dead, dozens injured

The interior of Singapore Airline flight SG321 is pictured after an emergency landing at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi International Airport, Thailand, May 21, 2024. REUTERS/Stringer

The sudden turbulence occurred over the Irrawaddy Basin in Myanmar about 10 hours into the flight, the airline said. The pilot declared a medical emergency and diverted the aircraft to Bangkok, it said without giving further details.

Reuters was not able to confirm the sequence of events or whether the medical emergency came before the turbulence.

Photographs from the interior of the plane showed large gashes in the overhead cabin panels, gas masks and panels hanging from the ceiling and items of hand luggage strewn around. A passenger said some people's heads had slammed into the lights above the seats and punctured the panels.

"I saw things lying everywhere and many air crew injured" with bruising, Kittikachorn said after the most critically injured passengers and crew had been evacuated.

A 73-year-old British man died during the incident, likely due to a heart attack, Kittikachorn said. Seven people were critically injured, some with head injuries. He added people were calm as they were led from the plane.

"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," the airline said.

Some tallies of the injured out of the 211 passengers and 18 crew differed.

The airline said 18 were hospitalised and 12 being treated in hospitals. Samitivej Hospital said it was treating 71 passengers, including six who were severely injured.

It was not immediately possible to reconstruct the incident from publicly available tracking data, but a spokesperson for FlightRadar 24 said it was analysing data at around 0749 GMT which showed the plane tilting upwards and return to its cruising altitude over the space of a minute.

singapore airlines flight hits severe turbulence, one passenger dead, dozens injured

A Singapore airline aircraft is seen on tarmac after requesting an emergency landing at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi International Airport, Thailand, May 21, 2024. Pongsak Suksi/Handout via REUTERS

A passenger who was on the Boeing 777-300ER plane told Reuters that the incident involved the sensation of rising then falling.

"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," Dzafran Azmir, a 28-year-old student on board the flight 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," he said.

Kittikachorn said most of the passengers he had spoken to had been wearing their seatbelts.

The spokesperson for FlightRadar 24 said regarding data showing a drop in height, "our initial thinking is the turbulence event is prior to the standard descent from 37,000 to 31,000 feet. That appears to just be a flight level change in preparation for landing."

Suvarnabhumi airport said the plane requested an emergency landing at 3:35 p.m. local time (0835 GMT) and landed at 3:51 p.m. Uninjured passengers disembarked and an another aircraft will fly them onwards. The airline said it landed at 3:45 pm.

TURBULENCE

Turbulence-related airline accidents are the most common type, according to a 2021 study by the National Transportation Safety Board.

From 2009 through 2018, the U.S. agency found that turbulence accounted for more than a third of reported airline accidents and most resulted in one or more serious injuries, but no aircraft damage.

Singapore Airlines, which is widely recognized as one of world's leading airlines and is a benchmark for much of the industry, has not had any major incidents in recent years.

Its last accident resulting in casualties was a flight from Singapore to Los Angeles via Taipei, where it crashed on Oct. 31, 2000, into construction equipment on the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport after attempting to take off from the wrong runway. The crash killed 83 of the 179 people on board.

Singapore Airlines has had seven accidents according to records by the Aviation Safety Network.

Boeing said it was in touch with Singapore Airlines and was ready to provide support. It referred further questions to the airline and local authorities.

"We extend our deepest condolences to the family who lost a loved one, and our thoughts are with the passengers and crew," it said.

Singapore's Transport Safety Investigation Bureau (TSIB) will be deploying investigators to Bangkok to look into the incident.

(Reporting by Xinghui Kok, Lisa Barrington, Chayut Setboonsarng, Panarat Thepgumpanat, Timour Azhari, Joanna Plucinska, Tim Hepher, Devjyot Ghoshal and Abinaya Vijayaraghavan; Writing by Martin Petty and Josephine Mason; Editing by Alexandra Hudson and Marguerita Choy)

OTHER NEWS

16 minutes ago

BBC Strictly star admits he has secretly married his long-term partner in sweet update

16 minutes ago

Max Verstappen awarded F1 2024 title as Fernando Alonso breaks McLaren, Ferrari hearts

16 minutes ago

What is modern hypergamy? The dating trend sweeping the UK

16 minutes ago

JGP and Conan miss tour as Ireland include 3 uncapped players

16 minutes ago

Abandoning emissions targets could 'decimate' economy

16 minutes ago

Over 100,000 Children, Pregnant Women Could Lose Health Care Plan in Texas

16 minutes ago

Silky Swiss bracing for battle with Scotland's pride on the line

17 minutes ago

Kate Beckinsale defends her ‘ridiculous’ bows from critics on Instagram

17 minutes ago

Mom of transgender girl athlete says Florida's investigation has destroyed her daughter's life

17 minutes ago

Illness ends Katie Boulter’s bid in Birmingham

17 minutes ago

Keith Urban on how Nicole Kidman stood by him early in their marriage: 'She chose love'

17 minutes ago

Ralph Lauren reveals Team USA uniforms for 2024 Olympic opening, closing ceremonies

17 minutes ago

After 300 km, drug overdose awareness walk comes to an end in Regina

17 minutes ago

Hunting, fishing fines more than double in B.C.

17 minutes ago

Massachusetts sees statewide 911 outage, limiting emergency service access

17 minutes ago

New deepfake bill would require Big Tech to police and remove sexually explicit AI images

17 minutes ago

Proposed law filed on behalf of school district police officer wounded in Santa Fe HS shooting

17 minutes ago

Rip currents, rough surf expected on Galveston Island with expected tropical cyclone in the Gulf of Mexico

20 minutes ago

‘Bridgerton’ Season 3 & French Film ‘Under Paris’ Jockey For Netflix’s Most-Watched Title Last Week, Leading Top 10

20 minutes ago

‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ EP Tom Campbell On Keeping The Series Fresh & Creating A Safe Platform For Queer Performers

20 minutes ago

‘Resident Alien’ Moves To USA Network With Season 4 Renewal

20 minutes ago

Rahul Kohli Joins Amazon’s ‘We Were Liars’ In Recasting

20 minutes ago

Venu Sports Streaming Venture Fills Out Executive Roster With Appointments Across Departments

22 minutes ago

Fans speculate that Jayson Tatum's rumored girlfriend Ella Mai is pregnant after R&B star was spotted celebrating Boston Celtics' NBA Finals win

23 minutes ago

IRS to close ‘major’ tax loophole

23 minutes ago

Ryan Reynolds would only make Deadpool and Wolverine if Shawn Levy was directing

23 minutes ago

Camila Cabello's evolving style inspired by David Bowie and Madonna

23 minutes ago

Rookie quarterback Drake Maye is stealing the show in New England

24 minutes ago

Leigh Leopards boss discusses Aaron Pene debut prospects – and his ‘explosive’ attributes

24 minutes ago

Whistleblower says Boeing lost hundreds of faulty parts -- and some may be on new 737 Max planes

24 minutes ago

Don't be surprised if UEFA Euro 2026 isn't Cristiano Ronaldo's last hurrah with Portugal

24 minutes ago

"An ordinary player" - Legendary European coach claimed MJ would have averaged 16 points per game in Europe

24 minutes ago

Croatia suffer Vlasic blow before crucial Albania match

24 minutes ago

‘Our matches should take precedence’ – Kilkenny legend Eddie Brennan furious that hurling games are not getting prime-time slots

24 minutes ago

NBA Draft is moving to two nights in 2024. Here's what to know about this year's edition.

24 minutes ago

Katy Perry is 'sexy confident' on comeback single Woman's World

24 minutes ago

Signed Taylor Swift CD demo with two unreleased songs sells for $12,000

24 minutes ago

Bridgerton's Nicola Coughlan wows in ethereal Skims shoot

24 minutes ago

James Gunn gives promising update on The Batman 2 script

24 minutes ago

Anne Hathaway reveals hack for lip plumping using a bizarre DIY tool