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Singapore Airlines passengers recount their stories and the turmoil at 37,000 feet

PHOTO: Singapore Airlines flight after emergency landing at BKK

“79 passengers and 6 crew are still in Bangkok as of this afternoon for treatment of injuries.”

On May 21, passengers and crew aboard Singapore Airlines flight SQ321 from London to Singapore experienced a terrifying episode of, what appears to have been, severe turbulence, about 10 hours into the journey. The turbulence hit suddenly, above the northern Andaman Sea, just off the coast of Myanmar.

The sudden turbulence, and a drop over 3 minutes of some 6,000 feet, resulted in chaos within the cabin. Objects and passengers were hurled about, causing significant injuries and structural damage to the plane. The breakfast was just being served at the time.

The pilot had only just turned on the ‘fasten seat belts’ sign when the turbulence hit. At the time, the plane was about to make a slight right hand turn and head to Singapore, only 2 hours away at the time.

28 year old passenger Dzafran Azmir, has described seeing people hitting the ceiling and landing awkwardly, some slamming into the floor. He said he saw other who had sustained severe head injuries and concussions.

Another passenger recounted the moment as the worst day of his life, mentioning that the plunge occurred without any warning, leading to passengers being thrown into the air and against the cabin storage bins and seating.

Overhead bins were dislodged and oxygen masks deployed although the cabin didn’t depressurise. Drew Kessler, another passenger, shared an image on his Facebook of his water bottle lodged in the ceiling, highlighting the intensity of the event. Kessler suffered a broken neck, while his wife sustained a broken back. Despite their injuries, they expressed gratitude that their children were unharmed in the turmoil.

Australian passenger Teandra Tukhunen described being thrown against the cabin’s roof and then to the floor, resulting in injuries. She noted the turbulence struck almost immediately after the seatbelt sign was illuminated, leaving little time for passengers to secure themselves.

The incident resulted in the death of 73 year old British passenger Geoffrey Kitchen, a retired insurance professional and musical theatre director. He and his wife were on a six-week holiday, intending to visit several countries. The incident necessitated an emergency diversion to Bangkok, Thailand.

Despite being injured, the flight crew worked diligently to assist passengers, earning praise for their efforts.

Upon arrival in Bangkok, following a diversion and emergency landing, technicians poured over the plane, and despite the chaos inside the aircraft, the 15 year old Boeing 777-300 appeared unharmed.

The majority of the passengers, 131 along with 12 crew members, were later transported to Singapore on a relief flight which arrived back in Singapore at Changi Airport at 5am this morning. Passengers were met by family members, relieved but shaken by the ordeal.

Meanwhile, 79 passengers and 6 crew are still in Bangkok as of this afternoon for treatment of injuries.

The extremely rare incident has left many, including a passenger who declared he wouldn’t fly again soon, deeply affected.

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