Passengers have been recounting the moment severe turbulence hit their Singapore Airlines flight, launching people and objects across the cabin.

A 73-year-old British man has died from a suspected heart attack, and more than 30 people were injured when the London-Singapore flight suffered a sudden drop as a meal service was under way.

Briton Andrew Davis described “awful screaming and what sounded like a thud” in the first few seconds of the incident.


“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 told BBC 5 Live.

Another passenger said the aircraft suddenly started “tilting up” and “shaking”.

“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,” 28-year-old student Dzafran Azmir told Reuters.

“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 added.

The Singapore-bound Boeing 777-300ER was diverted to Bangkok, making an emergency landing at 15:45 local time (08:45 GMT).

The flight was carrying 211 passengers and 18 crew, Singapore Airlines said. It offered its deepest condolences to the family of the deceased, who has not yet been named.

The airline said 31 people on board the plane had been taken to hospital.

“The remaining passengers and crew are being examined and given treatment where necessary at Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok.”

Singapore Airlines also provided details on the nationalities of those on the flight, which included 47 from the United Kingdom.

Allison Barker said she received a message from her son, Josh, who was on the plane: “I don’t want to scare you, but I’m on a crazy flight. The plane is making an emergency landing… I love you all.”

He was on his way to Bali. After that message, she waited for a “petrifying” two hours before hearing from him again.

Josh, she said, sustained minor injuries – but she is concerned that coming close to death could have a lasting impact on him.

A British man with a neck injury said he and his family were “lucky enough” none of them had died.

“It went from no turbulence… no plane shaking at all and then I was hitting the roof. All of a sudden, I was up like that.

“My son was thrown down on the floor two rows behind me. I heard that there was a guy hitting the roof in the toilet and he was injured quite badly, too,” he said, speaking from a Thai hospital.

Thai authorities have despatched ambulances and emergency teams to Suvarnabhumi Airport.

Singapore’s Transport Minister Chee Hong Tat said the government would provide assistance to the passengers and their families.

“I am deeply saddened to learn about the incident on board Singapore Airlines flight SQ321 from London Heathrow to Singapore,” he posted in a statement on Facebook.

It is still not clear how events unfolded. Turbulence is most commonly caused by aircraft flying through cloud, but there is also “clear air” turbulence which is not visible on a jet’s weather radar.

“Injuries from severe turbulence are relatively rare in the context of millions of flights operated,” aviation expert John Strickland told the BBC.

“However, severe turbulence can be dramatic and lead to severe injuries or sadly in this case a fatality.”

Flight crews are also trained in how to respond to turbulence, he said.

Research has shown that climate change will make severe turbulence more likely in the future.


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