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Singapore Airlines ‘very sorry’ after British man dies during extreme flight turbulence

Singapore Airline have apologised to passengers after severe turbulence hit a flight from London, during which a 73-year-old British man died and several were left critically injured.

Geoff Kitchen, suffered a suspected heart attack on the flight, according to a spokesman for Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport, where the plane was diverted to after severe turbulence on a Singapore Airlines flight from Heathrow Airport.

“We are very sorry for the traumatic experience that everyone on board SQ321 went through,” the airline’s CEO, Goh Choon Phong said in a video on social media.

He said the airline was providing all necessary support and pledged it would fully cooperate in investigations.

Singapore Airlines said a relief plane flew into Singapore on Wednesday morning with most of the passengers who were on a flight.

The airline said 143 passengers arrived in the city state shortly after 5 am.

Passengers arrive in Singapore on a relief flight.
Passengers arrive in Singapore on a relief flight.Credit: AP

An additional 79 passengers and six crew members remained in Bangkok, including the 71 taken to hospital as of Wednesday morning.

The airline’s Flight SQ321 encountered “sudden extreme turbulence” over Myanmar’s Irrawaddy Basin at 37,000ft about 10 hours after departure, with the pilot declaring a medical emergency and diverting the plane to Bangkok.

Tributes were paid to Mr Kitchen, a grandfather from south Gloucestershire.

In a Facebook post shared on Tuesday evening, Thornbury Musical Theatre Group in Bristol said: “It is with a heavy heart that we learn of the devastating news of the passing of our esteemed colleague and friend Geoff Kitchen in the recent Singapore Air Incident.

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

“Geoff was always a gentleman with the utmost honesty and integrity and always did what was right for the group.

“His commitment to TMTG was unquestionable and he has served the group and the local community of Thornbury for over 35 years, holding various offices within the group, including Chairman, Treasurer and most recently Secretary.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife and the family at this difficult time, and we ask that you respect their privacy.”

A Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) spokesperson said it was supporting the family of the passenger and was in contact with local authorities.

Flight path of Singapore Airlines plane
(PA Graphics)Credit: PA Graphics

One passenger on board Flight SQ321 to Singapore said the plane suffered a “dramatic drop”, meaning people not wearing a seatbelt were “launched immediately into the ceiling”.

Images posted on social media showed damage to the ceiling of the cabin, and food, cutlery and other debris strewn on the floor after the incident.

The 16-year-old Boeing 777 left Heathrow at 10.17pm on Monday and was diverted to Bangkok, landing at 3.45pm local time (9.45am BST) on Tuesday.

There were 211 passengers and 18 crew on board – including 47 passengers from the UK and four Irish nationals.

Singapore Airlines said: “Singapore Airlines flight SQ321, operating from London Heathrow to Singapore on May 20, encountered severe turbulence en route.

“We can confirm that there are injuries and one fatality on board.

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

A spokesperson for the UK Civil Aviation Authority said: “Our deepest condolences go out to all those who have been affected.

“Accidents of this nature are extremely rare and aviation remains one of the safest forms of travel.”

Source: ITV