Passenger Dies From Severe Turbulence Aboard International Flight

( – Severe turbulence caused the death of a passenger on a flight from London to Singapore on May 20. Singapore Airlines Flight SQ321 from London’s Heathrow Airport diverted to Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport after hitting “sudden extreme turbulence,” which officials later confirmed had killed one person and injured dozens more. There were 211 people on board, an official statement read, as well as 18 crew members, when a 73-year-old British citizen, Geoff Kitchen, suffered a fatal heart attack.

Suvarnabhumi Airport director Kittipong Kittikachorn said 71 passengers were treated at the Samitivej Srinakarin Hospital in the Thai capital.

Witnesses described experiencing “absolute terror” during the flight. One passenger said he heard another “screaming in agony” with an “awful gash on her head.” Passenger Andrew Davies told reporters that the aircraft “suddenly dropped.” He described objects flying around the plane and said passengers not wearing seatbelts slammed their heads into overhead panels and other parts of the cabin.

Mr. Davies added that several fellow travelers crashed to the floor “in awkward positions.”

The incident is the second time passengers have been harmed by turbulence in months. Last December, an Emirates flight from Dubai to Perth, Australia, encountered extreme weather near the Persian Gulf. Witnesses told Australian media that passengers were hurled into the air at great speed, causing a significant crack in the cabin ceiling.

Experts describe turbulence as encounters with “rough air” similar to waves at sea. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) says the air can cause the plane to move suddenly and violently, and that turbulence can occur suddenly and without warning. In most cases, it is frightening but not dangerous and passes as quickly as it arrives. However, the number of instances has risen over the past three decades, according to Dr. Paul D Williams, a professor of atmospheric science at the University of Reading, England. Dr. Williams said increased global temperatures have increased wind shear in the jet stream by 15%, causing more pockets of turbulence to develop.

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