Student recounts harrowing experience during turbulence on Singapore Airlines flight

23 May 2024 11:05am
Singapore Airlines said on May 21, 2024 that one person died and others were injured after "severe turbulence" on a flight from London that made an emergency landing in Bangkok. - (Photo by John MACDOUGALL / AFP)
Singapore Airlines said on May 21, 2024 that one person died and others were injured after "severe turbulence" on a flight from London that made an emergency landing in Bangkok. - (Photo by John MACDOUGALL / AFP)

SHAH ALAM - A Singapore Airlines flight from London to Singapore was hit with extreme turbulence over Myanmar, resulting in the death of a passenger and injuries to dozens of others on the flight as they were violently thrown around the cabin.

According to a report by Reuters, the Singapore Airlines flight SQ321 was approximately three hours away from their destination when their Boeing 777-300R suddenly encountered severe turbulence over Myanmar.

This led to chaos as passengers, flight attendants and in-flight meals were tossed around the cabin.

Explaining the harrowing experience, Dzafran Azmir, a Malaysian student on board the flight said the aircraft suddenly started tilting up and shaking.

"Many passengers were not wearing seatbelts and were thrown into the ceiling, hitting overhead baggage compartments and breaking through light fixtures and oxygen mask panels.

"People dropped to the ground, phones flew out of their hands and shoes were flung around. Oxygen masks dangled from the ceiling.

"The cabin floor was littered with debris, including spilled coffee, wine and water," Dzafran was reported as saying.

He said the crew, who were serving drinks and performing other duties at the time of the turbulence, suffered the most injuries.

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They suffered spinal and head injuries, he added.

During the incident one passenger suffered a fatal heart attack while dozens were injured.

The turbulence struck about 10 hours into the flight, as confirmed by a Singapore Airlines spokesperson and data from FlightRadar24, which indicated a rapid change in the plane's vertical rate at 0749 GMT.

Andrew Davies, a passenger who had just fastened his seatbelt when the incident happened, recalled the chaos and said that objects were flying around and people were screaming.

"A lady's head was bleeding. The seatbelt kept me in place, but the impact was severe.

"Every single cabin crew member I saw was injured, but they continued to assist passengers despite their injuries," he said.

During the emergency landing, passengers witnessed a chaotic scene as medical teams tended to the injured.

Davies recounted assisting a passenger who underwent resuscitation attempts for about 20 minutes without success.

The turbulence lasted for only a few seconds, but the aftermath was severe.

Weather reports indicated severe thunderstorms in the area, though the exact cause of the turbulence remained unspecified by Singapore Airlines.

The pilot declared a medical emergency and diverted the flight to Bangkok, Thailand where it landed about an hour later.

Upon landing, there were numerous ambulances and emergency workers already waiting near the aircraft.

Footage from inside the cabin revealed the extent of the damage, with medical tents set up on the tarmac to provide treatment for the injured.

Some were transported in wheelchairs and on stretchers, while others stayed in their seats.

Passengers and crew who were not hospitalised in Thailand were flown to Singapore on another flight early Wednesday morning.

Singapore Airlines chief executive officer Goh Choon Phong was there to greet them.

Singapore Airlines flight SQ321 departed from London at 10.38pm local time on Monday and encountered severe turbulence en route, according to Singapore Airlines.

The Boeing 777-300ER, carrying 211 passengers and 18 crew members, was diverted to Bangkok, where it safely landed at 3.45pm local time.