Monday, June 17, 2024

1 dead, 30 injured due to severe turbulence on Singapore Airlines flight

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One person is dead, and 30 are injured after a Singapore Airlines flight faced severe turbulence.

“We can confirm that there are injuries and one fatality on board the Boeing 777-300ER,” said SIA said in a statement. “There were a total of 211 passengers and 18 crew on board.”

Flight SQ321 departed from London’s Heathrow Airport on a Boeing 777-300ER on Monday and was supposed to land in Singapore, but instead was diverted to Thailand at 3:45 local time on Tuesday after requesting an emergency landing.

According to an update the airline posted on its Facebook page, the rest of the passengers, the majority of whom were from Australia, the United Kingdom and Singapore, and the crew were being evaluated and treated as needed by medical personnel at the airport.

Climate change making turbulence worse: But here’s why you shouldn’t worry (too much)

Four Americans were on board the flight, the airline said.

SIA would not identify the victim who passed, when asked by USA TODAY.

“Our priority is to provide all possible assistance to all passengers and crew on board the aircraft,” SIA said. “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.”

SIA also stated that it is working with “relevant authorities” to investigate the incident.

The airline added that Relatives of the passengers can call Singapore Airlines’ hotlines at +65 6542 3311 (Singapore), 1800-845-313 (Australia), and 080-0066-8194 (the United Kingdom).

What happened on flight SQ321?

The plane began to experience “sudden extreme turbulence” at 37,000 feet about 10 hours after it departed Heathrow, and the pilot called for an emergency landing, according to the update posted to the airline’s Facebook,.

The flight landed Tuesday afternoon local time at Bangkok’s airport, Suvarnabhumi International.

Who were the passengers?

The passengers on board are from the following countries, according to the airline:

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

Is turbulence getting worse?

Unfortunately, yes. Climate change is increasing the severity and frequency of turbulence as the planet warms and winds intensify.

“The atmosphere is getting more turbulent; there will be more severe turbulence in the atmosphere,” Paul Williams, a professor of atmospheric science at the University of Reading previously told USA TODAY.

Turbulence is also becoming more unpredictable in some ways, as so-called clear air turbulence, the kind that happens outside of storm systems, increases the most. That kind of turbulence can be harder for pilots to avoid than choppy air associated with storms, because it’s less visible with radar and other forecasting tools.

Even so, Williams said, turbulent air remains relatively uncommon at flight altitudes, so it’s unlikely for passengers to be involved in an incident like the one that affected flight 321.

“The absolute amount of turbulence is small,” he said.

How can travelers stay safe in turbulence?

The best way to avoid injuries or worse from turbulence is to stay seated whenever the fasten seatbelt sign is on, and to buckle up whenever seated on a plane, even if the sign is off.

Unsecured passengers and objects being thrown around is the biggest injury risk factor in turbulence.

“The people who are not strapped in now also become projectiles themselves and can harm people when they come back down,” she said. “I know plenty of flight attendants who have had career-ending injuries from turbulence,” Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants, previously told USA TODAY.

Planes themselves are designed to structurally withstand turbulence much more severe than what pilots will ever intentionally fly through. It’s the people and objects inside the cabin that pose the most danger at that point.

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