One dead and 30 injured after severe turbulence hits flight out of London

One person has died and 30 others were injured on board a Singapore Airlines plane that encountered severe turbulence on a flight from London to Singapore, the airline said Tuesday.

The Boeing 777-300ER plane diverted to Bangkok, according to a post on the Singapore Airlines Facebook page. A number of people have been injured, the airline said, though the company did not specify how many. It said 211 passengers and 18 crew were on board.

The one person who died was a 73-year-old British man, General Manager of Suvarnabhumi Airport Kittipong Kittikachorn said on Tuesday.

The flight landed in Bangkok at 3:45 p.m. local time (4:45 a.m. ET) Tuesday.

“As of 1950hrs Singapore time on 21 May 2024, 18 individuals have been hospitalised. Another 12 are being treated in hospitals,” a later update provided by Singapore Airlines read.

“The remaining passengers and crew are being examined and given treatment, where necessary, at Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok,” the company said in its post.

Singapore President Tharman Shanmugaratnam issued a statement on his social media accounts, expressing “condolences to the family and loved ones of the deceased.”

“We do not have the details of those affected, but know that the government ministries and agencies, as well as SIA, are doing their utmost to support all those affected and working with the authorities in Bangkok, where the plane had been diverted to,” Shanmugaratnam said.

Singapore’s Minister for Transport Chee Hong Tat said he was “deeply saddened to learn about the incident,” in a statement posted to his social media.

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“Ministry of Transport, Singapore, Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore and Changi Airport officials as well as SIA [Singapore Airlines] staff are providing support to the affected passengers and their families,” he said.

Turbulence occurs when a plane flies through clashing bodies of air moving at widely different speeds.

With light and moderate turbulence passengers might feel a strain against their seatbelt, and unsecured items could move around the cabin.

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But in severe cases turbulence can throw passengers around the cabin, causing severe injuries and occasionally death.

In March 2023, severe turbulence on a private jet resulted in the death of a former White House official, just days after seven people were transported to hospitals after a separate commercial flight hit significant turbulence.

In July 2023, seven people were injured on a Hawaiian Airlines flight to Sydney, Australia, when the plane was buffeted by severe turbulence, and 36 people were injured on a Hawaiian Airlines flight from Arizona to Honolulu in December 2022, with 20 people taken to emergency rooms.

A September 2022 study predicts that clear-air turbulence will increase significantly around the globe by the period 2050-2080, in particular along the busiest flight routes, and the strongest type of turbulence will increase the most.

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