World News 21 Mayıs 2024

One dead in turbulence on London-Singapore flight as people 'launched into ceiling'

One dead in turbulence on London-Singapore flight as people 'launched into ceiling'

One person has died and others have been injured during severe turbulence on a plane from London to Singapore – with passengers saying people were “launched into the ceiling”.

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

“We can confirm that there are injuries and one fatality on board the Boeing 777-300ER. There were a total of 211 passengers and 18 crew on board,” a statement said.

“Singapore Airlines offers its deepest condolences to the family of the deceased.”

The aircraft took off at 10.38pm UK time on Monday but had to divert to the Thai capital, landing at 3.45pm local time on Tuesday (9.45am UK time).

It was cruising at 37,000ft (11,280m) before dropping 6,000ft (1,830m) in around three minutes, according to flight tracking data.

Kittipong Kittikachorn, the general manager of Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, told a media conference one male passenger died.

Eighteen people have been hospitalised and 12 are being treated in hospitals, Singapore Airlines said.

At least one member of the cabin crew was injured, Mr Kittikachorn said.

He described the situation as “chaotic”.

“Lots” of passengers couldn’t walk and had to be rescued from the aircraft.

Some people with minor injuries have left the hospital, ready to travel back to Singapore, Mr Kittikachorn added.

“We’re looking after all the passengers,” he stressed.

One dead in turbulence on London-Singapore flight as people 'launched into ceiling'
Image:
The plane was forced to land in Bangkok. Pic: Pongsak Suksi/Reuters


Passenger Dzafran Azmir, 28, told Reuters news agency: “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 added: “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.”

Social media video showed ambulances lined up at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport.

Sky’s Asia correspondent Cordelia Lynch, at the airport, said it’s believed as many as 30 people were injured – with local media reporting two people may have died.

“There’s some suggestion the flight hit an air pocket before it had to make this emergency landing,” she said.

“There are some images circulating on social media that show parts of the plane inside and a lot of scattered debris.”

Turbulence can hit without warning

Jo Robinson

Weather producer

@SkyJoRobinson

There are a few forms of turbulence – where there’s a sudden change in airflow and wind speed.

Turbulence can often be associated with storm clouds, which are usually well forecast and monitored, allowing planes to fly around them.

Clear-Air Turbulence (CAT) is much more dangerous as there are no visual signs, such as clouds.

This invisible vertical air movement usually occurs at and above 15,000ft and is mostly linked to the jet stream.

There are clues on where CAT may occur, but generally it can’t be detected ahead of time, which means flight crews can be caught unaware with no time to warn passengers and put seat belt signs on.

It’s been understood for some time that climate change is increasing turbulence during flights, and the trend is set to worsen according to reports.

Singapore Airlines said it was working with Thai authorities “to provide the necessary medical assistance” and sending a team to Bangkok to provide extra help.

“Our priority is to provide all possible assistance to all passengers and crew on board the aircraft”, it added.

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.

Read more on Sky News:
Elvis Presley’s granddaughter fights auction of Graceland
Woman killed by her two XL bully dogs
Climate change causing more turbulence, say scientists

One dead in turbulence on London-Singapore flight as people 'launched into ceiling'
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