Singapore Airlines: Passengers describe chaos of fatal turbulence flight

Singapore Airlines: Passengers describe chaos of fatal turbulence flight

A passenger travelling on a plane where a man died after the aircraft hit extreme turbulence has said she was “thrown to the roof and the floor”, while another said he “won’t be flying again for a while”.

A 73-year-old British man died from a suspected heart attack and dozens more were injured after “sudden extreme turbulence” on a London-Singapore flight.

Singapore Airlines flight SQ321 left Heathrow Airport on Monday night but was forced to make an emergency landing in at Bangkok, landing at 3.45pm local time.

Passengers have said seatbelts spared people from injury and passengers were “launched into the ceiling” of the jet.

Australian Teandra Tukhunen, who had her left arm in a sling in Bangkok’s Samitivej Srinakarin Hospital, said she was asleep and “was woken up because I was thrown to the roof and then to the floor”.

Pic: Reuters

Sandra, from Melbourne, said she 'was woken up because I was thrown to the roof and then to the floor'
Sandra, from Melbourne, said she ‘was thrown to the roof and then to the floor’

Ms Tukhunen, 30, said when the seatbelt sign came on “pretty much immediately, straight after that I was flung to the roof, before I had time to put my seatbelt on unfortunately.

“It was just so quick, over in a couple of seconds and then you’re just shocked. Everyone’s pretty freaked out”.

Asked if it was scary, she shrugged: “Life happens. Things happen. The pilots saved our lives, that’s all that matters in the end.”

Passenger Josh said 'I don't think I'll be flying again for a while'
Passenger Josh said ‘I don’t think I’ll be flying again for a while’

Passenger Joshua said “I don’t think I’ll be flying again for a while” after the incident which he called “quite scary”.

Lying on a trolley in the same hospital, he described hearing “one huge loud noise, things were coming through the ceiling, water everywhere, people crying… it wasn’t a fun end to the journey”.

He said he was in “a lot of pain” and felt a lot worse after the news of the passenger’s death had “sunk in”.

British passenger Andrew Davies said “anyone who had a seatbelt on isn’t injured”.

Mr Davies said the seatbelt sign came on, but crew members didn’t have time to take their seats.

“Every single cabin crew person I saw was injured in some way or another, maybe with a gash on their head. One had a bad back, and was in obvious pain,” he said.

The interior of Singapore Airline flight SQ321 is pictured after an emergency landing at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi International Airport, Thailand, May 21, 2024. REUTERS/Stringer REFILE – CORRECTING FLIGHT NUMBER FROM "SG321" TO "SQ321
Pic: Reuters

Passenger Dzafran Azmir described the chaos on board after the plane rose, then fell.

Mr Azmir said: “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.

“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.”

Kittipong Kittikachorn, head of Bangkok airport, described the disorder he found when he boarded the aircraft after the most critically injured passengers and crew had been evacuated.

Mr Kittikachorn said: “I saw things lying everywhere and many air crew injured.”

He said it’s believed the turbulence hit while people were having breakfast and that an “air pocket” was to blame.

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

A spokesperson for Samitivej Srinakarin Hospital said: “Seventy-one people needed treatment and six of them had critical injuries”.

Read more:
Images show damage in plane after one killed in turbulence
Is flight turbulence getting worse – and what types are there?

However, Singapore Airlines seemed to contradict those numbers and said only 30 people had been taken to hospital.

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Singapore Airlines said the pilot declared a medical emergency and landed in Bangkok after “sudden extreme turbulence over the Irrawaddy Basin at 37,000 feet about 10 hours after departure”.

In a statement, the UK Foreign Office said it was “in contact with the local authorities”.

Forty-seven Britons were among the 211 passengers and 18 crew onboard the plane, a Boeing 777-300ER.