Singapore Airlines: Man killed and seven fighting for life after ‘traumatic’ turbulence on Heathrow flight

A British man has been killed and seven people are in a critical condition after being injured in a harrowing flight from London to Singapore which was hit by severe turbulence.

Passengers aboard the Singapore Airlines flight were dramatically flung into the air after the plane was forced to drop 6,000ft within minutes due to weather conditions. The pilots were then forced to carry out an emergency landing in Thailand shortly before 4pm local time.

Thai authorities confirmed a 73-year-old man had died of a suspected heart attack, with his wife also hospitalised.

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Ambulances at Bangkok airport treating injured passengers (X)

Suvarnabhumi airport general manager Kittipong Kittikachorn said that 23 other passengers have been injured, as well as nine crew members with 14 people sent to hospital with minor injuries.

Images on social media have shown food strewn across the floor with ambulances lined up outside the aircraft, while one traumatised passenger said that people were launched into the ceiling.

Other images showed an air stewardess with blood over her face, while the interior of the plane can be seen with debris and oxygen masks strewn across the cabin.

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The flight departed from Heathrow airport on Monday evening before hitting bad weather conditions, with Thai media reporting that 30 people have been injured.

The interior of the plane after the flight experienced turbulence (REUTERS)

“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,” Dzafran Azmir, a 28-year-old student on board the flight said.

“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.”

“People dropped to the ground, my phone flew out of my hand and went a couple aisles to the side, people’s shoes flung about,” he added.

“The crew and people inside lavatories were hurt the most because we discovered people just on the ground not able to get up. There were a lot of spinal and head injuries,” Azmir said. “I don’t think they anticipated how bad it was.”

Oxygen masks and debris can be seen in the cabin (REUTERS)

In a statement on Facebook, the airline said: “We can confirm that there are injuries and one fatality on board the Boeing 777-300ER. There were a total of 211 passengers and 18 crew on board.

“Singapore Airlines offers its deepest condolences to the family of the deceased.

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

The flight had been due to arrive at the Singapore Changi airport at 6.10pm local time, but encountered clear air turbulence over the Bay of Bengal, just south of the southern tip of Myanmar.

Tracking data captured by FlightRadar24 showed the flight cruising at an altitude of 37,000 feet. Just after 8am GMT, the Boeing 777 suddenly and sharply pitched down to 31,000 feet over the span of some three minutes, the data shows.

Thai authorities have despatched ambulances and emergency teams to the airport, while images on social media show medical personnel surrounding the plane.

Members of the rescue team in Bangkok (AP)

Thai immigration police said medical personnel had boarded the plane to assess injuries but could not confirm the number, while uninjured passengers had disembarked.

Singapore’s Transport Minister Chee Hong Tat said the government would provide assistance to the passengers and their families.

“I am deeply saddened to learn about the incident onboard Singapore Airlines flight SQ321 from London Heathrow to Singapore,” he posted in a statement on Facebook.

The region is currently experiencing extreme tropical thunderstorms, causing it to land at Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok.

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

The flight encountered turbulence above the Bay of Bengal (Flightradar24)

Between 2009 through to 2018, the 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 has consistently held an excellent safety record and is recognised as one of the world’s leading airlines. The only Singapore Airlines accident to result in fatalities involved a Boeing 747 “Jumbo jet” taking off from Taipei in the year 2000.

The pilots mistakenly attempted to take off from a closed runway, and collided with construction equipment. Of the 179 passengers and crew on board, 83 died and 96 survived.

Two British Airways cabin crew suffered broken legs when a flight from Singapore to Heathrow was affected by severe turbulence over the Bay of Bengal on June 28 last year.

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