Singapore Airlines: British man dies in severe turbulence as flight from London Heathrow forced to land in Bangkok

08:55PM Tue 21 May, 2024

Singapore Airlines flight SQ321 from Heathrow was forced to make an emergency landing in Bangkok.

Seven people have serious head injuries, according to the head of the Bangkok airport, while the airline said 30 people had been taken to hospital.

The plane left London on Monday night but diverted to the Thai capital 10 hours later, landing at 3.45pm local time on Tuesday.

Passenger Dzafran Azmir, 28, described chaos as the turbulence hit.

"Suddenly the aircraft starts tilting up and there was shaking so I started bracing for what was happening," he said.

"And very suddenly there was a very dramatic drop so everyone seated and not wearing seatbelts was launched immediately into the ceiling."

"Some people hit their heads on the baggage cabins overhead and dented it," he added.

"They hit the places where lights and masks are and broke straight through it."

Briton Andrew Davies told Sky News "anyone who had a seatbelt on isn't injured".

He said the seatbelt sign came on, but there was no time for crew to take their seats.

Mr Davies said "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, who was in obvious pain."

Kittipong Kittikachorn, head of Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport, told reporters a British man, 73, had died from probable cardiac arrest.

He said about 30 people were injured, including at least one crew member, and that many passengers couldn't walk and had to be helped from the aircraft

It's believed the sudden turbulence hit while people were being served breakfast, the airport boss added.

Mr Kittikachorn blamed an "air pocket" for the incident.

He said the dead man's wife was with him at hospital and that some people with minor injuries had already been discharged.

The UK Foreign Office said it was "in contact with the local authorities" over the incident.

Flight tracking data showed the plane cruising at 37,000ft (11,280m) before dropping 6,000ft (1,830m) in around three minutes.

However, a spokesperson for FlightRadar24 said this appeared to "just be a flight level change in preparation for landing".

There were 211 passengers and 18 crew on the plane, a Boeing 777-300ER.

Singapore is considered a standard-setter for the aviation industry and consistently tops airline awards.

Turbulence-related injuries are the most common type on passenger planes, according to a study by the US National Transportation Safety Board.

It found it was responsible for more than a third of accidents between 2009 and 2018, but no aircraft damage.