British man, 73, dies after severe turbulence hits Singapore Airlines flight

One person died and seven people were critically injured as severe turbulence struck a Singapore Airlines flight from Heathrow Airport, ITV News' Martha Fairlie reports

A British man has died and seven others left critically injured after a London to Singapore flight was hit by severe turbulence on Tuesday.

The man has been identified as 73-year-old Geoffrey Ralph Kitchen, a theatre director from south Gloucestershire.

In a social media post, Thornbury Musical Theatre Group, described him as "a gentleman with the utmost honesty and integrity".

The general manager of Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport - where the flight diverted to - said in a press conference the man died from a possible heart attack.

Singapore Airlines, the airline that operated the flight, confirmed that 18 people in total had been hospitalised. Other passengers and crew members are being examined and receiving treatment where needed.

The plane had to be diverted to Bangkok, Thailand, at 3.45pm local time (9.45am UK time) on Tuesday.

Andrew Davies was among the 47 British passengers on board the flight.

Businessman Andrew Davies, who was on board the Singapore Airlines flight, told ITV News about the on board experience

He left London Heathrow at 10pm on Monday to take his regular flight to New Zealand, via Singapore, and described the flight as 'normal' before the turbulence hit.

Speaking to ITV News, Mr Davies said: "About six or seven hours into the flight I was watching a film and the seatbelt sign came on so I put my seatbelt on and literally in seconds, of putting it on there was a sudden thud."

He described how passenger belongings, including "cushions, pillows, blankets and laptops", were flying around the aircraft.

Whilst a lot of people on board were in distress, Mr Davies felt the cabin crew were "incredible" throughout the incident.

"Out of all the cabin crew, even those who were injured they were all helping people. Even if they had [facial] lacerations, they carried on doing their work to the best of their ability.

"I was very impressed about how hard they worked."

The UK government office for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development said: "We are responding to the emergency landing in Bangkok of a Singapore Airlines flight and are in contact with the local authorities."

Footage filmed after the plane landed shows the aftermath of the turbulence (Credit: X / @gotravelyourway)

In a statement posted to their social media pages, Singapore Airlines said Flight SQ321 encountered severe turbulence en-route.

The statement said: "We can confirm that there are injuries and one fatality on board the Boeing 777-300ER. There were a total of 211 passengers and 18 crew on board.

"Singapore Airlines offers its deepest condolences to the family of the deceased."

The statement continued: "Our priority is to provide all possible assistance to all passengers and crew on board the aircraft. We are working with the local authorities in Thailand to provide the necessary medical assistance, and sending a team to Bangkok to provide any additional assistance needed."

Emergency crews from Samitivej Srinakarin Hospital, about 12 miles away from Suvarnabhumi Airport, were on site to transfer injured passengers from Flight SQ321 off the runway for treatment.

Flightradar24 said its tracking data showed the plane encountering turbulence at approximately 8.49am BST while flying over Myanmar.

The flight tracking service said data sent from the aircraft showed a “rapid change in vertical rate, consistent with a sudden turbulence event”, adding that there were “some severe” thunderstorms in the area at the time.

Footage shows a number of ambulances leaving Suvarnabhumi airport in Bangkok where the flight was diverted and passengers placed on stretchers

Aviation consultant John Strickland said that “turbulence happens”, but with millions of flights operated each year, incidents are “limited” and “fatalities are rare”.

He said: “Exposure is greater in different parts of the world.

“The South Atlantic, Africa and the Bay of Bengal are all places that spring to mind where there’s a greater incidence.

“There are discussions about whether climate change is influencing an increase in occurrences.”

Mr Strickland said airlines use a variety of methods to minimise the chances of a flight being affected by turbulence, such as weather forecasts, radar and reports from aircraft ahead.

He added: “It can never be taken lightly when airlines recommended you keep the seatbelt loosely fastened throughout the flight.”

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