Passengers traumatized after Singapore Airlines flight, CEO apologizes

Passengers traumatized after Singapore Airlines flight, CEO apologizes
Passengers traumatized after Singapore Airlines flight, CEO apologizes

Traumatized travelers and crew members landed in Singapore on Wednesday after severe turbulence on their flight from London caused the death of a passenger and an emergency landing in Bangkok, leading the airline’s CEO to apologize.

• Read also: PICTURES | “Severe turbulence”: one dead and several injured during a London-Singapore flight

• Read also: Fatal turbulence in planes: “It’s extremely rare”

Singapore Airlines Flight SQ321 experienced “extreme and sudden turbulence” at 11,000 meters above Myanmar ten hours after takeoff on Tuesday, rising suddenly and diving several times.

According to a passenger, people on board were thrown into the cabin with such force that their skulls hit the ceiling, causing significant head injuries to dozens of people.

Photos taken on the plane, an aircraft from US manufacturer Boeing, show a cabin littered with food, drink bottles and luggage, as well as oxygen masks hanging from the ceiling.

Singapore Airlines “is truly sorry for the traumatic experience” experienced by those on board, said company CEO Goh Choon Phong.

“I would like to express my deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of the deceased,” he said in a video message on Wednesday.

The plane, which was carrying 211 passengers and 18 crew members, made an emergency landing at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport, where medical staff carried the injured on stretchers to ambulances waiting on the tarmac .

A 73-year-old British man died, and according to Samitivej Srinakarin Hospital in Bangkok, 71 people, including six seriously injured, were taken in for treatment. According to the capital’s airport, 83 people on board were injured.

On Wednesday, 131 passengers and 12 crew members, a majority of those on the plane, were finally able to land in Singapore via another flight.

“Incredibly strong turbulence”

They were greeted by relieved relatives but none wanted to speak to journalists.

Andrew Davies, a British passenger on board, told BBC Radio 5 that the plane had “suddenly gone down” and there had been “very little warning”.

“During the few seconds after the plane went down, we heard a terrible scream and what sounded like a thud,” he said, adding that he helped a woman who was “screaming at agony” and who had a “gash on the head”.

He thought the plane was going to crash, he said in a BBC podcast.

He described seeing people with head lacerations and bleeding ears: “I was covered in coffee. The turbulence was incredibly strong.

Singapore Prime Minister Lawrence Wong sent his “deepest condolences” to the family and loved ones of the deceased passenger, Geoff Kitchen, a theater manager near Bristol.

The city-state sent a team of investigators to Bangkok and Mr. Wong assured on Facebook that his country was “working closely with the Thai authorities”.

Of the passengers, 56 were Australian, 47 British and 41 Singaporean, the airline said.

“It is too early to know exactly what happened. But I think passengers are generally lacking in precautions,” Anthony Brickhouse, an American air safety expert, told AFP.

“As soon as the signal goes off, most of them immediately take off their seat belts.”

According to Andrew Davies, “the plane suddenly collapsed” just as the seat belt signal had just come on.

Allison Barker, whose son Josh was on the plane, told the BBC he texted her telling her about “a crazy flight” that had to make an emergency landing.

“We didn’t know if he had survived, it was so scary. I spent the longest two hours of my life,” she said.

Scientists say climate change is likely to cause more turbulence, invisible to radar.

According to a study carried out in 2023, the annual duration of turbulence increased by 17% between 1979 and 2020 and severe, rarer turbulence by more than 50%.

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