Passenger Dies Due to Severe Turbulence on International Flight

A Singapore Airlines flight from London to Singapore encountered severe turbulence, resulting in one fatality and multiple injuries among passengers and crew.

The Boeing 777-300ER, carrying 211 passengers and 18 crew members, was forced to make an emergency landing in Bangkok at 3:45 pm local time (08:45 GMT) on Tuesday. Flight SQ321 experienced a sudden drop in altitude from 37,000 feet to 31,000 feet over the Andaman Sea as it approached Thailand. The dramatic descent occurred within a span of five minutes.

Singapore Airlines confirmed the incident in a statement on its Facebook page, acknowledging the injuries and the tragic fatality. “We are deeply saddened by this incident and our thoughts are with the affected passengers and their families,” the statement read.

Passengers described a terrifying ordeal as the aircraft began to tilt and shake violently. Dzafran Azmir, a 28-year-old student, recounted to 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.” He noted that many passengers struck their heads on the overhead baggage compartments, causing significant injuries.

Andrew Charlton, director of Aviation Advocacy, explained that deaths caused by turbulence are “extremely rare.” He attributed the severe turbulence to the tropical thunderstorms common in the area and a possible change in air temperature as day turned into night. Despite aircraft like the Boeing 777-300ER being designed to withstand severe turbulence, unrestrained passengers remain vulnerable to injuries.

The extent of injuries remains unclear, though Thai media reports suggest around 30 people were hurt. Thai immigration authorities confirmed that medical personnel boarded the plane to assess the injured, while uninjured passengers disembarked safely.

Singapore Airlines emphasized its commitment to assisting all passengers and crew. “Our priority is to provide all possible assistance to all passengers and crew on board the aircraft,” the airline stated, adding that it was coordinating with Thai authorities to ensure necessary medical support.

Singapore’s Transport Minister Chee Hong Tat expressed his condolences on social media. “I am deeply saddened to learn about the incident onboard Singapore Airlines flight SQ321 from London Heathrow to Singapore. My deepest condolences to the family of the deceased,” he posted on Facebook, assuring that the government would provide support to the affected passengers and their families.

This incident highlights the unpredictable nature of air travel and the critical importance of following safety protocols, such as wearing seat belts, to minimize injuries during unexpected events. Singapore Airlines has launched an internal investigation to understand the causes and to prevent similar occurrences in the future.

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