22 May, 2024 @ 11:31
2 mins read

British man killed and Spaniard injured after Singapore Airlines flight suffers ‘severe turbulence’ and is forced to divert

A BRITISH man died whilst a Spaniard was among 71 passengers injured after a Singapore Airlines flight from London to Singapore plunged over 5,000ft in less than two minutes amid severe turbulence.

Geoffrey Kitchen, a 73-year old musical theatre director from near Bristol who was embarking on a six-week holiday across Asia with his wife, Linda, died from a suspected heart attack during the dramatic ordeal.

Singapore Airlines CEO Goh Choon Pong apologised to passengers on board for the ‘traumatic experience’, whilst Singapore Prime Minister Lawrence Wong promised a ‘thorough investigation’ into the incident. 

Witnesses have said that just seconds after the seatbelt lights were switched on, the plane plummeted, throwing passengers, cabin crew, luggage and equipment around the cabin.

Oxygen masks fell from the overhead compartments, food and drinks were thrown into the air, trollies were pushed over and luggage fell from overhead lockers as passengers screamed in fright. 

READ MORE: Chaos on easyJet flight to Malaga: 30 drunken passengers are kicked off plane after ‘threatening to urinate on the floor’

Andrew Davies, an events manager from London who was onboard the flight, told The Times: “It felt like an instant between the sign coming on and the drop. I looked behind me and some of the oxygen masks had come down. There was a poor lady with an awful deep gash on her head and a man who wasn’t looking very responsive at all. Everywhere you looked there was another injury”. 

Dozens of passengers were injured as debris scattered throughout the cabin, alongside several members of the cabin crew who were checking seatbelts when the sudden turbulence struck. 

Among the 71 passengers and crew wounded, seven are said to be in a severe condition in hospital.

Flight data for the Boeing 777-300 shows the plane falling 5,000ft from its 37,000ft cruising altitude in less than two minutes before eventually levelling off.

The plane was then diverted from its original destination of Singapore, landing at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Thailand at 3.34pm local time as passengers and crew members offered CPR and medical assistance to wounded individuals.

Kittipong Kittikachorn, general manager at the airport, said: “The airport medical team entered the aircraft and surveyed and found that there were many injured people, as well as death. We liased with the pilot and we agreed to evacuate the passengers immediately”. 

Geoff Kitchen, 73, died from a suspected heart attack.

Some 211 passengers were aboard the Singapore Airlines flight SQ321, including 47 British citizens and two Spaniards. 

A separate flight carrying 143 passengers and crew who were not seriously injured arrived in Singapore from Bangkok early on Wednesday morning. 

The flight was Singapore Airlines’ first fatal incident in 24 years.

A spokesperson for Singapore Airlines said that the flight ‘encountered sudden extreme turbulence over the Irrawaddy Basin at 37,000ft about ten hours after departure. The pilot declared a medical emergency and diverted the aircraft to Bangkok, and landed at 15.45 local time on May 21, 2024’.

“Singapore Airlines offers its deepest condolences to the family of the deceased. We deeply apologise for the traumatic experience that our passengers and crew members suffered on this flight. We are providing all necessary assistance during this difficult time”, the statement added.

Ben Pawlowski

Ben joined the Olive Press in January 2024 after a four-month stint teaching English in Paraguay. He loves the adrenaline rush of a breaking news story and the tireless work required to uncover an eye-opening exclusive. He is currently based in Barcelona from where he covers the city, the wider Catalunya region, and the north of Spain. Send tips to [email protected]

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