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Shaken Passengers Arrive in Singapore after Deadly Turbulence-stricken Flight

Editor

Laila Afifa

22 May 2024 15:47 WIB

The interior of Singapore Airlines flight SQ321 after an emergency landing at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi International Airport, Thailand, May 21, 2024. REUTERS/Stringer

TEMPO.CO, Singapore - More than 140 passengers and crew from a Singapore Airlines (SIAL.SI) flight hit by heavy turbulence that left dozens injured and one dead finally reached Singapore on a relief flight Wednesday morning after an emergency landing in Bangkok.

The scheduled London-Singapore flight on a Boeing (BA.N) 777-300ER plane diverted to Bangkok after the plane was buffeted by turbulence that flung passengers and crew around the cabin, slamming some into the ceiling.

A 73-year-old British passenger died of a suspected heart attack, and at least 30 people were injured.

"I saw people from across the aisle going completely horizontal, hitting the ceiling and landing back down in like really awkward positions. People, like, getting massive gashes in the head, concussions," Dzafran Azmir, a 28-year-old student onboard the flight, told Reuters after arriving in Singapore.

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

Singapore Airlines took 131 passengers and 12 crew on the relief flight from Bangkok, which reached Singapore just before 5 a.m. (21:00 GMT). There were 211 passengers including many Australians, British, and Singaporeans, and 18 crew onboard the original flight; injured fliers and their families remained in Bangkok.

Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport general manager Kittipong Kittikachorn said on Tuesday seven people were critically injured.

"On behalf of Singapore Airlines, I would like to express my deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of the deceased," Singapore Airlines CEO Goh Choon Phong said in a video message.

Officers from Singapore's Transport Safety Investigation Bureau arrived in Bangkok on Tuesday night, Singapore's Transport Minister Chee Hong Tat said in a statement on Facebook.

As the incident involves a U.S. company, Boeing, which makes the 777-300ER aircraft, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) was sending an accredited representative and four technical advisers to support the investigation, he said.

The plane encountered sudden extreme turbulence, Goh said, and the pilot then declared a medical emergency and diverted to Bangkok.

Aircraft tracking provider FlightRadar 24 said at 0749 GMT the flight encountered "a rapid change in vertical rate, consistent with a sudden turbulence event", based on flight tracking data.

"There were thunderstorms, some severe, in the area at the time," it said.



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