Four Irish people on board Singapore Airlines flight as passenger dies after ‘severe turbulence’

An airline passenger was killed and many others injured when a Singapore Airlines flight from Heathrow Airport hit severe turbulence.

A spokesman for Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport, where the flight was diverted, said the 73-year-old Briton suffered a suspected heart attack.

He added that seven other people were seriously injured and dozens more suffered minor injuries. The airline has confirmed that four of the passengers on board were Irish. There are no reports on whether any of those four were injured.

Singapore Airlines said the flight encountered “sudden extreme turbulence” over Myanmar’s Irrawaddy Basin at 37,000 feet about 10 hours after departure, and the pilot declared a medical emergency and diverted the plane to Bangkok.

One of the passengers aboard Singapore-bound flight SQ321 said the plane suffered a “dramatic plunge,” meaning people not wearing seatbelts were “immediately thrown against the ceiling.”

Images posted on social media showed damage to the cabin’s roof and food, cutlery and other debris scattered on the ground after the incident.

The flight, operated by a 16-year-old Boeing 777 aircraft, took off at 10.17pm on Monday and was diverted to Bangkok, landing at 3.45pm local time (9.45am BST) on Tuesday.

There were 211 passengers and 18 crew members on board.

Singapore Airlines said: “Singapore Airlines flight SQ321, operating from London Heathrow to Singapore on May 20, encountered severe turbulence en route.

“We can confirm that there are injuries and one death on board.

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

In an update posted on social media on Tuesday afternoon, Singapore Airlines said: “The nationalities of the passengers are as follows: 56 from Australia, two from Canada, one from Germany, three from India, two from Indonesia, one from Iceland, four from Ireland, one from Israel, 16 from Malaysia, two from Myanmar, 23 from New Zealand, five from the Philippines, 41 from Singapore, one from South Korea, two from Spain, 47 from the United Kingdom and four from the United States Joined. from America.”

Flightradar24 said its tracking data showed the plane encountered turbulence at approximately 8:49 a.m. BST while flying over Myanmar.

The flight tracking service said data sent from the aircraft showed a “rapid change in vertical speed, consistent with a sudden turbulence event,” adding that there were “some severe thunderstorms” in the area at the time.

Student Dzafran Azmir, 28, who was on the flight, told Reuters: “Suddenly the plane started to tilt and there were tremors, so I started preparing for what was happening, and very suddenly there was a crash. Very dramatic, so everyone sat down and, not wearing a seat belt, immediately launched himself onto the roof.

“Some people hit their heads on the luggage cabins above and dented them, hit the places where the lights and masks are and went through them.”

Screenshot from Flightradar24.com of the path of Singapore Airlines flight SQ321 from London Heathrow to Singapore, which was diverted to Bangkok.
Screenshot from Flightradar24.com of the path of Singapore Airlines flight SQ321 from London Heathrow to Singapore, which was diverted to Bangkok.

A passenger from London, who identified himself as Andrew, told BBC Radio 5 Live that the seat belt sign came on, he followed the instructions and “at that very moment, the plane suddenly dropped.”

He said: “What I remember most is seeing objects and things flying through the air.

“It was covered in coffee. “It was incredibly severe turbulence.” She heard “horrible screams” as the plane fell, and what “sounded like a thud.”

Aviation consultant John Strickland told the PA news agency that “turbulence happens” but with millions of flights operated each year, incidents are “limited” and “deaths are rare.”

He said: “Exposure is greater in different parts of the world.

“The South Atlantic, Africa and the Bay of Bengal are places that come to mind where there is a greater incidence.

There are discussions about whether climate change is influencing an increase in occurrences.

Strickland said airlines use a variety of methods to minimize the chances of a flight being affected by turbulence, such as weather forecasts, radar and reports from planes ahead.

And he added: “It can never be taken lightly that airlines recommend keeping the seat belt loose throughout the flight.” Joji Waites, head of flight safety at pilots union Balpa, said: “Balpa sends its thoughts to the family and friends of those affected by this event.

“The aircraft are designed and certified to withstand flight in severe turbulence conditions, and pilots are trained to anticipate potential encounters with turbulence based on weather forecasts and onboard aircraft technology.

“Enroute weather forecasts provide a general prediction of when turbulence is likely to occur, but often cannot reflect actual conditions in sufficient detail to allow pilots to avoid specific cases of turbulence.

“It is important, therefore, that aircraft occupants have their seat belts fastened while seated in the event of an unexpected encounter and promptly comply with ‘fasten seat belt’ signals when requested to do so.” “. A spokesperson for the UK Civil Aviation Authority said: “Our deepest condolences go out to all those who have been affected.

“Accidents of this nature are extremely rare and aviation remains one of the safest forms of travel.”