73-year-old British man identified as passenger who died on SIA flight that encountered turbulence

British passenger likely died from cardiac arrest after SIA flight dropped 6,000 feet

On Tuesday (21 May), severe turbulence on a Singapore Airlines flight led to the death of one passenger, the airline announced.

That passenger has been identified as Mr Geoffrey Kitchen, a 73-year-old British man.

Source: Geoff Kitchen on Facebook

He reportedly died from suspected cardiac arrest.

Passenger who died on SIA flight was on holiday

Mr Kitchen, a musical theatre director from Bristol, had boarded SQ321 from London to Singapore with his wife Linda, British newspaper The Daily Mail reported.

The couple, who have grandchildren, were heading to Southeast Asia and Australia on holiday.

Mrs Kitchen’s condition is unknown, and friends told the paper that they’re afraid she is one of the injured.

Passenger died of likely cardiac arrest on SIA flight

Unfortunately, Mr Kitchen passed away after the Boeing 777-300ER aircraft encountered a bout of severe turbulence.

During a press conference in Bangkok, Suvarnabhumi Airport general manager Kittipong Kittikachorn told the media he was likely to have died from cardiac arrest.

Source: Suvarnabhumi Airport on Facebook

The Briton had prior medical problems, he added.

Neighbours told The Daily Mail that he had suffered heart problems and had stents to hold his arteries open.

30 people injured, seven critically

In a Facebook update at 8pm, SIA said 18 people had been hospitalised and another 12 were being treated in hospitals as of 7.50pm.

Most of the injured passengers suffered minor head injuries, Mr Kittikachorn said. However, seven of them are critically injured.

Crew members were also among those taken to hospital, he added. A photo being circulated over social media showed a female SIA cabin crew with blood on her face.

Source: X

The remaining passengers and crew were being examined and treated at the airport, SIA added.

41 passengers from Singapore on board

Another update from SIA at 10.35pm gave a breakdown of the nationalities of the 211 passengers on board:

  • 41 from Singapore
  • 56 from Australia
  • 47 from the United Kingdom
  • 23 from New Zealand
  • 16 from Malaysia
  • 5 from the Philippines
  • 4 each from the United States and Ireland
  • 3 from India
  • 2 each from Canada, Indonesia, Myanmar and Spain
  • 1 each from Germany, Iceland, Israel and South Korea

A plane to carry some of the passengers to Singapore was expected to arrive at 9pm or 10pm, Mr Kittikachorn said.

In a third update after midnight on Wednesday (22 May), the airline said an SIA team from Singapore had arrived in Bangkok to support their colleagues and the local authorities on the ground, adding:

We are providing all possible assistance to the passengers and crew on board SQ321, both at the hospital and the airport.

Plane dropped 6,000 feet in about 5 minutes

According to SIA, SQ321 encountered sudden extreme turbulence over the Irrawaddy Basin, off the coast of Myanmar, about 10 hours after departure.

Flight tracking website FlightRadar24, showed that the Boeing 777-300ER dropped from 37,000 feet to as low as 31,000 feet in about five minutes — a massive 6,000 feet.

Source: FlightRadar24

At that time, the passengers were being served breakfast, Mr Kittikachorn said.

The subsequent pandemonium caused the pilot to declare a medical emergency and divert the aircraft to Bangkok, landing at 3.45pm local time.

Passenger describes experience on SQ321

Mr Andrew Davies, a British project manager who was on the plane, said in a series of posts on X that there was “very little warning” of the turbulence to come.

Source: Andrew Davies on X

When the seatbelt sign flashed, he put on his seatbelt immediately and then “the plane just dropped”.

This caused lots of people to be injured, including the cabin crew who were “stoic and did everything they could”.

It also resulted in belongings being scattered with coffee and water splattering the ceiling. A video circulated on social media showed the floor littered with various items as well as gaping holes and tubes hanging from where the ceiling had caved in.

Source: thaipbsworld on TikTok

There were “so many injured people” suffering from head lacerations and bleeding ears, Mr Davies said, adding:

A lady was screaming in pain with a bad back. I couldn’t help her — just got her water.

Some passengers with medical training tried to help, with one shouting for a defibrillator and another performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on the “poor gentleman that passed”.

He also saw another passenger lying flat in the aisle behind him.

Even the cabin crew were disturbed by the situation, it seems, with one telling him that it was “the worst in her 30 years of flying”.

Source: Andrew Davies on X

Ambulances rush to help injured passengers

When the plane landed in Bangkok, a medical team from Suvarnabhumi Airport rushed to the aircraft and tended to those injured before transporting them to hospitals for further treatment, the airport said on Facebook.

Photos the airport shared showed several ambulances ready to help.

Source: Suvarnabhumi Airport on Facebook

Passengers were wheeled away from the plane on stretchers.

Source: Suvarnabhumi Airport on Facebook

Food and drinks were also provided to passengers waiting for their flight to Singapore.

Source: Suvarnabhumi Airport on Facebook

S’pore’s MOT investigating incident

SIA said it’s working with the relevant authorities on the probe into this incident.

In a press release on Tuesday (21 May), Singapore’s Ministry of Transport (MOT) said its Transport Safety Investigation Bureau (TSIB) is investigating the incident, adding:

TSIB is in touch with its Thai counterparts and will be deploying investigators to Bangkok.

President, PM & Minister saddened by incident

President Tharman Shanmugaratnam has responded to the incident on Facebook, saying he was “greatly saddened” by the loss of life.

Prime Minister Lawrence Wong also said on Facebook that he is “saddened and shocked” by what happened.

In a Facebook post of his own, Transport Minister Chee Hong Tat said he was deeply saddened to hear about the incident.

The President, PM and minister sent their condolences to the loved ones of the deceased and said the authorities were providing support to those affected.

In its update, SIA 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.

Also read: Severe turbulence on Cathay Pacific flight to Hong Kong causes passengers to scream & vomit

Severe turbulence on Cathay Pacific flight to Hong Kong causes passengers to scream & vomit

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Featured image adapted from Geoff Kitchen on Facebook and thaipbsworld on TikTok.

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