6 June 2024

A 73-year-old British man died and about 30 others were injured as a Singapore Airlines flight from London to Singapore encountered severe turbulence and had to make an emergency landing at Suvarnabhumi International Airport this afternoon.

Singapore Airlines confirmed in a statement posted on Facebook that “there are multiple injuries and one fatality on board the Boeing 777-300ER aircraft”.

With regards to data showing a drop in height, the spokesperson for FlightRadar 24 told Reuters that “our initial thinking is the turbulence event is prior to the standard descent from 37,000 to 31,000 feet. That appears to just be a flight level change in preparation for landing.”

Flight SQ321 made an emergency landing in Bangkok at 15:45 local time (08:45 GMT).

Air traffic controllers at Suvarnabhumi Airport said they were contacted by the pilot for emergency landing.  Medical teams and dozens of ambulances were at hand when the flight landed.  Most of the injured passengers were rushed to Smitivej Hospital on Srinagarindra Road.

Speaking at a press conference this evening, general manager of Suvarnabhumi airport Kittipong Kittikachorn confirmed that 30 passengers were injured, seven of them in critical condition, and 16 suffered minor injuries, he said.

Kittipong said the severe turbulence happened during a meal service. Most people he talked to said that they were wearing seatbelts but felt a strong impact.

“Some people are fine when de-boarding the plane but felt some pain afterwards,”  he added.

According to Kittipong, there were no Thai nationals on board the flight. 

He said that it was the first incident in which there was an emergency landing with fatality for Suvarnabhumi Airport.  He declined to comment on investigation of the incident. 

Kittipong said he went on board the aircraft after its landing and found the inside “to be in a mess”.    A video clip said to be taken in the aftermath of the plane’s encounter with the air turbulence showed objects strewn over the cabin floor. 

About 50 staff members from Singapore Airlines were reported to be working with airport authorities to help coordinate with passengers who continued their journey on the next flight to their destination.