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Singapore Airlines turbulence: Passengers harrowing experience

AFP | Bangkok

The Daily Tribune – www.newsofbahrain.com

A 73-year-old British man died and more than 70 people were injured yesterday in what passengers described as a terrifying scene aboard a Singapore Airlines flight that hit severe turbulence and made an emergency landing in Bangkok.

The turbulence came as parts of Thailand were buffeted by thunderstorms during the country’s annual rainy season, with flight tracking data suggesting the plane dropped more than 1,800 metres (6,000 feet) in just five minutes.

Andrew Davies, a British passenger aboard the Boeing 777 travelling from London to Singapore, told BBC Radio 5 that the plane “suddenly dropped” and there was “very little warning”.

Awful screaming

“During the few seconds of the plane dropping, there was an awful screaming and what sounded like a thud,” he said, adding that he helped a woman who was “screaming in agony” with a “gash on her head”.

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

It was incredibly severe turbulence”. Most of the injured passengers on the flight suffered blows to the head, said the director of Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport, Kittipong Kittikachorn, who confirmed the age and nationality of the deceased man.

Emergency vehicles raced onto the tarmac at the Thai capital’s main airport with lights flashing and sirens blaring after the plane touched down at 3:45 pm (0845 GMT).

Distress call

“At 3:35 pm the airport received a distress call from the Singapore Airlines flight saying there were passengers on board injured by turbulence, and requesting an emergency landing,” Suvarnabhumi Airport said in a statement.

“The plane landed at the airport and the medical team was sent to treat all the injured.” Flight SQ321 had taken off from London’s Heathrow airport and “encountered sudden extreme turbulence” at 11,300 metres (37,000 feet) over Myanmar’s Irrawaddy Basin, according to Singapore Airlines.