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Singapore Airlines relief flight arrives at Changi

A Singapore Airlines (SIA) flight, carrying 131 passengers and 12 crew members, experienced severe turbulence and arrived at Changi Airport early on Wednesday (May 22). The flight, originally scheduled from London to Singapore, was diverted to Bangkok after turbulence violently shook the plane, causing some passengers and crew to be thrown around the cabin and into the ceiling.

Photographs from inside the plane revealed extensive damage, including large gashes in the overhead cabin panels, oxygen masks and panels hanging from the ceiling, and hand luggage scattered around.

A 73-year-old British man, Mr. Geoff Kitchen from Thornbury, near Bristol in South West England, died of a suspected heart attack, and at least 30 people were injured, some critically. Mr. Kitchen was reportedly traveling with his wife for a six-week holiday.

In an update on Facebook on Wednesday morning, Singapore Airlines (SIA) stated that the passengers and crew of flight SQ321 arrived at 5:05 am on a relief flight.

Upon their arrival at Changi Airport, they were greeted by the Chief Executive Officer of SIA, Mr. Goh Choon Phong.

“Transportation to their homes or hotel accommodation has been arranged for passengers traveling to Singapore,” said the airline.

“For passengers with onward connections, we have rebooked them on alternative flights. We have also arranged hotel accommodation or lounge access for them to rest until their next flight.”

Reuters reported that dozens of passengers quietly disembarked from a Singapore Airlines jet on Wednesday morning, largely ignoring the media awaiting their arrival.

Some responded to shouted questions, confirming they had been on the original London-Singapore flight and saying “Good flight!” when asked about the final leg from Bangkok.

“I saw people from across the aisle going completely horizontal, hitting the ceiling and landing back down in really awkward positions. People were getting massive gashes in the head and concussions,” Dzafran Azmir, a 28-year-old student on board the flight, told Reuters after arriving in Singapore.

He had earlier described feeling the plane tilt upwards and begin to shake.

“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 overhead baggage compartments, denting them. They struck the areas where lights and masks are stored, breaking straight through them.”

In a video message on Wednesday morning, Mr. Goh detailed the timeline of events.

Flight SQ321 encountered “sudden extreme turbulence” over the Irrawaddy Basin at an altitude of 37,000 feet, about 10 hours after departing from London Heathrow. The flight was carrying 211 passengers and 18 crew members.

The pilot declared a medical emergency and diverted the Boeing 777-300ER aircraft to Bangkok, landing at 3:45 pm local time.

“Singapore Airlines swiftly dispatched a team to Bangkok last night, and they have been helping our colleagues with the support on the ground,” Mr. Goh said.

“We are fully cooperating with the relevant authorities on the investigations.” Singapore’s Transport Safety Investigation Bureau (TSIB), part of the Transport Ministry, is launching an investigation into the incident on SQ321. They have been in contact with their Thai counterparts and will send investigators to Bangkok.

Relatives seeking information may contact the Singapore Airlines hotlines at +65 6542 3311 (Singapore), 1800-845-313 (Australia), and 080-0066-8194 (the United Kingdom).

 

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