Four Irish on board Singapore flight that left one dead and 30 injured due to severe turbulence

Singapore Airlines flight forced to divert to Bangkok after incident in which British man (73) died from suspected heart attack

Four Irish citizens were on board the Singapore Airlines flight that hit severe turbulence on Tuesday, killing one passenger and injuring 30 others.

The flight from London and bound for Singapore fell into an air pocket while cabin crew were serving breakfast before it encountered turbulence, prompting the pilots to request an emergency landing, Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport general manager Kittipong Kittikachorn told a press conference.

Photographs from the interior of the plane showed large gashes in the overhead cabin panels, gas masks and panels hanging from the ceiling and items of hand luggage strewn around. A passenger said some people’s heads had slammed into the lights above the seats and punctured the panels.

Four Irish citizens were on board the flight, a spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs said on Tuesday night.

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“The Embassy is in close contact with the relevant Thai authorities and stands ready to provide all appropriate consular assistance,” the spokesman added.

“I saw things lying everywhere and many aircrew injured” with bruising, Mr Kittikachorn said after the most critically injured passengers and crew had been taken from the plane.

A 73-year-old British man died during the incident, likely due to a heart attack, Mr Kittikachorn said. Seven people were critically injured, some with head injuries. He added people were calm as they were led from the aircraft.

Eighteen people were hospitalised, Singapore Airlines said.

“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,” the airline added.

A passenger who was on the flight said the incident involved the sensation of rising then falling.

“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 seat belt was launched immediately into the ceiling,” said Dzafran Azmir, a 28-year-old student on board the flight.

“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,” he said.

Mr Kittikachorn said most of the passengers he had spoken to had been wearing their seat belts.

The Boeing 777-300ER plane had 211 passengers and 18 crew when it made the emergency landing, the airline said.

Suvarnabhumi Airport said the plane requested an emergency landing at 3.35pm local time (9.35am Irish time) and landed at 3.51. Uninjured passengers disembarked and an another aircraft was due to fly them onwards.

Turbulence-related airline accidents are the most common type, according to a 2021 study by the National Transportation Safety Board.

From 2009 through 2018, the US agency found that turbulence accounted for more than a third of reported airline accidents and most resulted in one or more serious injuries, but no aircraft damage.

Singapore Airlines, which is widely recognised as one of world’s leading airlines and is a benchmark for much of the industry, has not had any major incidents in recent years.

Its last incident resulting in casualties was a flight from Singapore to Los Angeles via Taipei, where it crashed on October 31st, 2000 into construction equipment on the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport after attempting to take off from the wrong runway. The crash killed 83 of the 179 people on board.

Boeing said it was in touch with Singapore Airlines and was ready to provide support. It referred further questions to the airline and local authorities. “We extend our deepest condolences to the family who lost a loved one, and our thoughts are with the passengers and crew,” it said.

Singapore’s Transport Safety Investigation Bureau said it would be deploying investigators to Bangkok. – Reuters

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