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Kiwi in ICU in Thai hospital after fatal Singapore Airlines turbulence

NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 23 May 2024, 11:05am

Kiwi in ICU in Thai hospital after fatal Singapore Airlines turbulence

NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 23 May 2024, 11:05am

A New Zealander remains in intensive care in a Thai hospital after being badly injured onboard the Singapore Airlines flight that hit severe turbulence, leading to the death of one passenger. 

Bangkok’s Samitivej Hospital has posted an update online regarding the 85 patients transferred to various hospitals for treatment in Thailand. 

The update says 20 patients remain in the Intensive Care Unit including one New Zealander. A further two New Zealanders are listed as patients at Srinakarin Hospital. 

Nine patients are in a stable condition after undergoing surgery at Samitivej Srinakarin Hospital. All surgeries are said to have been “successful”. A further five patients are awaiting surgery. 

Twenty-seven patients have been discharged. 

Singapore Airlines Flight SQ321 encountered severe weather conditions while travelling from London to Singapore overnight on Wednesday, with the plane being diverted to Bangkok. 

Singapore Airlines confirmed that a British man had died and its chief executive extended his condolences to the man’s family. The airline said there were “multiple” injuries on the flight. 

Twenty-three New Zealanders were onboard. 

Wife in intensive care told husband is dead 

The wife of the man who died on the Singapore Airlines flight has only just been told he died. 

Geoff Kitchen is believed to have been sitting next to his wife Linda when Flight SQ321 hit severe turbulence over the Indian Ocean and dropped around 1800m in three minutes. 

The 73-year-old British man died in his seat of a heart attack, while his wife suffered severe spinal injuries, according to the Daily Mail. 

The British passenger who died after a flight to Singapore was hit by severe turbulence has been named as 73-year-old Geoffrey Kitchen.The British passenger who died after a flight to Singapore was hit by severe turbulence has been named as 73-year-old Geoffrey Kitchen. 

Linda has been in intensive care in a Bangkok hospital, and was only told on Wednesday morning (UK time) that her husband was dead. 

A family friend told the Daily Mail that Linda spoke with her son Stuart on the phone from hospital, despite being woozy with painkillers. 

“She has spinal and shoulder injuries - I think she was unconscious when they got her off the plane.” 

Kiwi passenger requires 31 stitches for flight injuries 

The family of one New Zealand man who needed 31 stitches told 1News how he had described the turbulence and the moment he was thrown from his seat. He said the turbulence was “violent shaking for 30 seconds and then a massive drop”. 

“It was terrifying,” the man’s wife, who was travelling with him, said. 

Photographs of the man’s injuries showed the back of his ear had been sliced apart and bruising on his face. 

Another photograph showed where the man had slammed into the interior of the aircraft and left a dent. It was blood-stained. 

The man has been discharged from hospital. He received 31 stitches and an X-ray showed his neck had been strained. He and his wife were still in Bangkok. 

The Singapore Airlines Boeing 777, which departed from London’s Heathrow Airport for Singapore with 211 passengers and 18 crew members aboard, was diverted and landed in stormy weather in Bangkok. 

An earlier statement from the airline posted on social media listed the nationalities of those on board as follows: 56 from Australia, 23 from New Zealand, two from Canada, one from Germany, three from India, two from Indonesia, one from Iceland, four from Ireland, one from Israel, 16 from Malaysia, two from Myanmar, five from the Philippines, 41 from Singapore, one from South Korea, two from Spain, 47 from the United Kingdom and four from the United States. 

A later statement from the airline said 131 passengers had been flown to Singapore on a relief flight, while another 79 passengers and six crew remembers remained in Bangkok. 

Singapore Airlines chief executive Goh Choon Phong said: “On behalf of Singapore Airlines, I would like to express my deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of the deceased passenger”. 

“We also deeply apologise for the trauma experienced by all passengers and crew members on this flight. We are providing all possible assistance and support to them, along with their families and loved ones, during this difficult time. The wellbeing of our passengers and staff is our utmost priority.” 

British passenger Andrew Davies told Sky News the seatbelt sign was illuminated but crew members didn’t have time to take their seats. 

“Every single cabin crew person I saw was injured in some way or another, maybe with a gash on their head,” Davies said. “One had a bad back, who was in obvious pain.” 

Dzafran Azmir, a 28-year-old student on the flight, told ABC News: “Some people hit their heads on the baggage cabins overhead and dented it. They hit the places where lights and masks are and broke straight through it.” 

Kittipong Kittikachorn, general manager of Suvarnabhumi Airport, said seven passengers were severely injured, and 23 passengers and nine crew members had moderate injuries. 

Sixteen people with less serious injuries received hospital treatment and 14 were treated at the airport. He said the British man appeared to have had a heart attack but medical authorities would need to confirm that. 

A Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson said they are aware of reports New Zealanders were involved in the Singapore Airlines incident. 

“We are seeking further information but have not received any requests for consular assistance.” 

Tracking data captured by FlightRadar24 and analysed by the Associated Press show the Singapore Airlines flight SQ321 cruising at an altitude of 37,000ft. 

At one point, the Boeing 777-300ER suddenly and sharply descended to 31,000ft over about three minutes, according to the data. The aircraft then stayed at 31,000ft for under 10 minutes before diverting and landing in Bangkok less than a half-hour later. 

Aircraft turbulenceAircraft turbulence 

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