Airline Travel

Singapore Airlines Flight Encounters Fatal Turbulence

Image Credit: PYOK
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The flight from London to Singapore, SQ321, was diverted to Bangkok following a terrifying episode of severe turbulence that left one passenger dead and scores injured, including 16 Malaysians.

In a media ecosystem now seemingly honed in on amplifying every minor in-flight incident aboard any Boeing aircraft, a story of relief and respect for aeronautical engineering emerged yesterday.

Singapore Airlines flight SQ321, a Boeing 777-300ER flying from London to Singapore, encountered severe turbulence en route, ultimately diverting to Bangkok following the harrowing incident. The flight had 211 passengers and 18 crew on board.

According to news reports, 30 passengers were reported injured and taken to hospitals, while 41 others received outpatient care. Geoff Kitchen, a 73-year-old British man, died from a heart condition during the incident, according to Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport officials. The British Foreign Office is supporting Mr Kitchen’s family.

The turbulence, which occurred over Myanmar, caused the plane to dip and climb rapidly, leading to injuries such as broken arms, cuts, and bruises.

Flight SQ321 encountered turbulence over the Irrawaddy Basin at 37,000 feet. The aircraft diverted to Bangkok after the pilot declared a medical emergency. Some injured passengers were taken to Samitivej Srinakarin Hospital, while 131 travelers later continued to Singapore.

The incident involved citizens from multiple countries, including Malaysia, the UK, New Zealand, Spain, the US, and Ireland. Six passengers sustained severe injuries.

Infographic courtesy of News24

Singapore President Tharman Shanmugaratnam and Transport Minister Chee Hong Tat expressed condolences and confirmed that support is being provided to affected passengers. Singapore’s Ministry of Transport is investigating the incident with the help of Thai authorities.

Turbulence, caused by clashing air masses, can range from mild to severe. In extreme cases, it can result in serious injuries or fatalities.

Despite the appearance of the cabin, which sustained a fair amount of damage, the Boeing aircraft landed safely. Modern aircraft are designed to withstand extreme turbulence, so despite the discomfort and, in this case, the injuries and death, the 777 performed admirably.

The interior of SQ321 after landing in Bangkok | Image Credit: Reuters

According to CNN, Singapore Airlines said on Tuesday following the incident that a dedicated team had arrived in Bangkok “to support our colleagues and the local authorities on the ground” in an update on its Facebook page.


Singapore Airlines also expressed its “deepest condolences to the family of the deceased. We deeply apologize for the traumatic experience that our passengers and crew members suffered on this flight.”

Boeing has said it is in touch with the Singaporean carrier and is “ready to support them.” The manufacturer is deferring further questions to the airline and local authorities.

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