Singapore Airlines deadly turbulence: Several hospitalised passengers undergo spinal surgery

The majority of the passengers suffered head and spinal injuries

Singapore Airlines passengers Adinun Kittiratanapaibool, Director of Samitivej Srinakarin Hospital, speaks during a press conference about injured passengers from Singapore Airlines flight SQ321 | Reuters

The majority of the passengers and crew onboard the Singapore Airlines flight, that hit severe turbulence, suffered head and spinal injuries. Around 20 people still remain in the intensive care unit in Bangkok, where the passengers were rushed to after the flight made an emergency landing on Tuesday. 

Two Singaporeans, six Malaysians, three Australians, six Malaysians and one person each from Hong Kong, New Zealand, and the Philippines were in ICU care, said the head of a Bangkok hospital. 

The aircraft Boeing 777-300ER with a total of 211 passengers and 18 crew on board encountered severe turbulence over Myanmar, leaving a person dead and injuring over 30 passengers. 

Adinun Kittiratanapaibool, director of Bangkok’s Samitivej Srinakarin hospital, said his staff were treating six people for skull and brain injuries, 22 for spinal injuries, and 13 for bone, muscle and other injuries.

"We have never treated people with these kinds of injuries caused by turbulence,” he told reporters. 

So far, seventeen surgeries have been performed, including nine spinal and eight other injuries, he added. 

The injured at the hospital range in age from 2-83 years old.

Meanwhile, the Malaysian ambassador to Thailand said that nine of the 16 Malaysians who were on the flight were being treated in a hospital in Bangkok. 

“Five of them are in ICU and under observation and one victim is in the normal ward. They are all in stable condition...But one is in critical condition but stable. He has multiple injuries to his head, back and leg. He is one of the crew.” said Jojie Samuel.

Passengers recall the shock and chaos when the flight dropped 6,000 feet minutes from its cruising altitude after crossing the Bay of Bengal. 

“I fell onto the floor. I didn’t realise what happened. I must have hit my head somewhere. Everyone was screaming on the plane. People were scared,” Josh Silverstone, a 24-year-old Briton on his way to the Indonesian holiday island of Bali, told reporters. 

“So many injured people. Head lacerations, bleeding ears. A lady was screaming in pain with a bad back. I couldn’t help her – just got her water,” one passenger, Andrew Davies from London, wrote on social media. There had been very little warning, he said. “The seatbelt sign came on, I put on my seatbelt straight away then the plane just dropped.”

A relief flight took 131 passengers and 12 crew to Singapore’s Changi airport on Wednesday to continue their journeys or return home.


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