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Singapore Airlines

Four Irish people on Singapore flight forced to land in Bangkok after 'severe turbulence'

The incident came as parts of Thailand were buffeted by thunderstorms as the country’s annual rainy season gets under way.

LAST UPDATE | 21 May

FOUR IRISH PEOPLE were on board a Singapore Airlines flight from London to Singapore that was forced to make an emergency landing due to severe turbulence today.

One person died and more than 70 were injured, according to the airline.

The condition of the Irish passengers has not been made known by Singapore Airlines but the Department of Foreign Affairs said that it stands ready to provide assistance. 

The Boeing 777 experienced “severe turbulence” while heading from London to Singapore before it was diverted to Bangkok, the airline said.

The deceased is a 73-year-old British man who suffered a suspected heart attack, according to a spokesperson for Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport. 

Bangkok’s Samitivej Srinakarin Hospital said a total of 71 people had been sent for treatment, six of them severely injured.

One passenger said the plane suffered a “dramatic drop”, meaning people not wearing a seatbelt were “launched immediately into the ceiling”.

Images posted on social media showed damage to the ceiling of the cabin, and food, cutlery and other debris strewn on the floor in the aftermath of the incident.

“Singapore Airlines flight #SQ321, operating from London (Heathrow) to Singapore on 20 May 2024, encountered severe turbulence en-route. The aircraft diverted to Bangkok and landed at 1545hrs local time on 21 May 2024,” the company said in a statement.

members-of-a-rescue-team-discuss-after-a-london-singapore-flight-was-diverted-to-bangkok-due-to-severe-turbulence-in-bangkok-thailand-tuesday-may-21-2024-the-plane-apparently-plummeted-for-a-num Members of a rescue team discuss after a London-Singapore flight was diverted to Bangkok due to severe turbulence, in Bangkok, Thailand. Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

“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.

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

Our priority is to provide all possible assistance to all passengers and crew on board the aircraft. We are working with the local authorities in Thailand to provide the necessary medical assistance, and sending a team to Bangkok to provide any additional assistance needed.

Singaporean President Tharman Shanmugaratnam said that “we must hope and pray” for the recovery of the injured passengers.

“My deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of the deceased,” Shanmugaratnam said on Facebook.

Singapore said it will send investigators to Bangkok.

“The Transport Safety Investigation Bureau (TSIB) is in touch with its Thai counterparts and will be deploying investigators to Bangkok,” the transport ministry said in a statement.

ambulances-wait-to-carry-passengers-from-a-london-singapore-flight-that-encountered-severe-turbulence-in-bangkok-thailand-tuesday-may-21-2024-the-plane-apparently-plummeted-for-a-number-of-minut Ambulances wait to carry passengers from a London-Singapore flight that encountered severe turbulence, in Bangkok, Thailand. Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Distress call

Flight tracking data suggested the plane dropped more than 1,800 metres (6,000 feet) in just five minutes over the Andaman Sea.

The incident came as parts of Thailand were buffeted by thunderstorms as the country’s annual rainy season gets under way.

“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.”

The airport statement described the dead passenger as a foreigner – meaning a non-Thai.

Singapore’s transport minister Chee Hong Tat said in a Facebook post that he was “deeply saddened” by the incident and offered his condolences to the family of the fatality.

Student Dzafran Azmir, 28, who was on the flight, told Reuters: “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 a seatbelt was launched immediately into the ceiling.

“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.”

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

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

“I was covered in coffee. It was incredibly severe turbulence.”

He heard “awful screaming” as the plane was dropping, and what “sounded like a thud”.

In a statement this issued this afternoon, the aircraft manufacturer Boeing said it has been in contact with Singapore Airlines and that it stands ready to provide support. 

Boeing extended its “deepest condolences to the family who lost a loved one, and our thought are with the passengers and crew”. 

With reporting from AFP, Press Association and Cormac Fitzgerald 

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