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Singapore Airlines Apologises for Deadly ‘Traumatic’ Flight Incident

Singapore Airlines CEO Goh Choon Phong has issued an apology following a severe turbulence incident on Tuesday that resulted in the death of one passenger and injuries to dozens. The affected flight, SQ321, was en route from London to Singapore when it encountered extreme turbulence, forcing an emergency landing in Bangkok.

Details of the Incident

  • Flight Details: Singapore Airlines flight SQ321 from London to Singapore.
  • Emergency Landing: The flight made an emergency landing in Bangkok.
  • Casualties: One passenger, a 73-year-old Briton named Geoff Kitchen, died of a suspected heart attack. Several others remain in critical condition.
  • Passengers and Crew: The plane was carrying 211 passengers and 18 crew members. Of these, 79 passengers and six crew members are still in Bangkok receiving medical treatment.

Apology and Support

In a video statement on Wednesday, Goh expressed deep regret for the traumatic experience endured by those on board. He conveyed condolences to the family of the deceased and assured that the airline is fully cooperating with authorities in the investigation. Goh emphasized that Singapore Airlines would provide all possible assistance to the affected passengers and crew.

Incident Description

The turbulence struck the Boeing 777-300ER over the Indian Ocean, causing the plane to drop more than 6,000 feet (1,800 meters) in three minutes. The flight was approximately 10 hours into its journey and flying over the Irrawaddy Basin at an altitude of 37,000 feet when the turbulence hit.

Eyewitness Accounts

  • Andrew Davies, a British passenger, described the sudden drop and the subsequent chaos, including a woman with a severe head injury and another passenger screaming in pain.
  • Dzafran Azmir, another passenger, recounted how those not wearing seatbelts were hurled into the ceiling, resulting in significant injuries and damage to the overhead panels.

Legal and Regulatory Context

According to the Montreal Convention, airlines are strictly liable for damages resulting from the death or injury of passengers. However, airlines can limit their liability if they can prove that passengers contributed to their injuries, such as by not wearing seatbelts. Mike Danko, a California attorney, highlighted this aspect while discussing the incident with Reuters.

Government Response

Singapore Prime Minister Lawrence Wong extended his deepest condolences to the family of the deceased. He assured that Singapore is working closely with Thai authorities and that the Transport Safety Investigation Bureau would conduct a thorough investigation into the incident.

Historical Context

Incidents involving Singapore Airlines are rare, with the carrier known for its safety record. The last fatal accident occurred in 2000, when a Boeing 747 crashed during takeoff from the wrong runway at a Taiwan airport, resulting in 83 deaths out of 179 passengers.

This incident underscores the ongoing commitment of Singapore Airlines to passenger safety and support in the aftermath of unexpected and tragic events.

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