• Thursday, June 13, 2024

News

Singapore Airlines turbulence: 22 suffer spinal cord injuries

Nearly 60 passengers were injured after the flight on May 21 encountered extreme turbulence over the Irrawaddy Basin about 10 hours after departure

A Singapore Airlines aircraft is seen on tarmac after requesting an emergency landing at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport, Thailand, May 21, 2024. (Pongsakornr Rodphai/Handout via REUTERS)

By: Shajil Kumar

Twenty-two passengers from a Singapore Airlines flight that was hit by severe turbulence on Tuesday have spinal cord injuries and six others, including a two-year-old child, have brain and skull injuries, according to media reports on Friday.

Geoffrey Kitchen, a 73-year-old British passenger, died likely due to a heart attack on the Singapore Airlines (SIA) flight SQ321, operating from London to Singapore.

Nearly 60 passengers were injured after the flight on May 21 encountered “sudden extreme turbulence over the Irrawaddy Basin at 37,000 feet about 10 hours after departure”.

The pilot diverted the Boeing 777-300ER carrying 211 passengers and 18 crew members to Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport, making an emergency landing.

Twenty people remained in intensive care, although none were life-threatening cases, reported The Straits Times, citing Dr Adinun Kittiratanapaibool, director of Samitivej Srinakarin Hospital in Bangkok.

The oldest patient at the hospital is 83, while the youngest is a two-year-old child who suffered a concussion, a mild traumatic brain injury that affects brain function.

Kittiratanapaibool said there were 40 patients at the hospital after the incident. Sixty-five passengers and two crew members were still in Bangkok, said SIA in a Facebook post on Thursday.

It added that SIA chief executive Goh Choon Phong has been meeting the affected passengers, crew, their family members and loved ones in Bangkok to offer his support personally and to understand their concerns.

Goh said: “We have also facilitated the travel of their family members and loved ones to Bangkok and ensured that they are taken care of too.”

He also thanked the staff at Bangkok Hospital, Samitivej Srinakarin Hospital, and Samitivej Sukhumvit Hospital, where the injured passengers and crew are believed to be hospitalised. (PTI)

Flight route altered

Singapore Airlines has tweaked its in-flight seatbelt sign policies and altered at least one flight route after a turbulence incident this week.

The airline is adopting a more cautious approach to turbulence, including not serving hot drinks or meals when the seat belt sign is on, it said in a statement to Singapore broadcaster Channel News Asia.

The daily London to Singapore route SQ321 has completed two flights since the incident and not flown over the part of Myanmar where the sudden turbulence occurred about 3 hours before scheduled landing. The flight time is about the same, tracking data show.

They flew instead over the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea, route data from flight tracker FlightRadar 24 shows. (Agencies)

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