Passengers ‘somersaulted’ in 7,000ft flight drop that killed Brit granddad as survivors hug family in emotional reunion

A DEADLY Singapore Airlines Boeing jet plunged 7,000ft in a six minute death drop.

Those onboard the flight that killed Brit granddad Geoff Kitchen, 73, recalled “doing somersaults” while others were “launched into the ceiling”.

Passengers grip their seats and each other amid turbulenceCredit: East2West

Passengers of Singapore Airlines flight SQ321 greet family members upon arrival at Changi Airport in SingaporeCredit: AFP

The traumatised flyers, who made an emergency landing in Bangkok, are seen escorted by ground staff upon arrival in SingaporeCredit: AFP

The ceiling of the Boeing 777-300ER was ripped apartCredit: East2West

Flight SQ321 took off from London Heathrow shortly after 10pm on Monday with 211 passengers and 18 crew on board – including 47 Brits.

Nearly 11 hours into the 13-hour journey to Singapore, the packed jet was smashed by sudden “severe turbulence” while passengers were eating breakfast, officials said.

Shocking images showed food, drinks and cutlery strewn across the galley kitchens of the plane as it was violently thrown around.

A grandfather hurt on today’s deadly flight described his terrifying ordeal at a Bangkok hospital attempting to find his wife, daughter, and grandson.

Jerry, a 68-year-old who talked with the BBC without revealing his last name, called today the “worst day of my life.”

According to him, medical officials took the most seriously injured passengers off the plane first once it landed in Bangkok.

He said: “I ended up in the hospital and obviously, because of the situation, it was fairly chaotic.

“Things were going very smoothly at first. I had just been to the loo, came back and sat down [before experiencing a] bit of turbulence.

“Suddenly the plane plunged, I don’t know how far but it was a long way and so sudden. There was no warning at all.

Injured passengers on board the Singapore Airlines flightCredit: East2West

Footage showed dented overhead lockers where passengers smashed into them

Ceiling fittings were ripped apart and pipework was exposed as the plane plunged 7,000ftCredit: ViralPress

“I ended up hitting my head on the ceiling [and] my wife did. Some poor people walking around ended up doing somersaults, it was absolutely terrible.

“Suddenly it stopped, and it was calm again. The staff did their best to tend to the injured people, there were a lot of them.

“Some of the staff were injured themselves, so they did a sterling job.

“Eventually they told us we’d divert to Bangkok, which was a huge relief.”

Jerry revealed that the horrific event forced his family to cancel their plans to attend his son’s wedding.

“We were going to my son’s wedding, and that was supposed to be on Friday,” he said.

“If we continued out itinerary, that would mean five consecutive flights. We’re not going to do that, we’re going to go straight back. It’s just unfortunate.

“The bad experience that my wife and daughter had, and my own experience, [means] we can’t stomach another five flights.”

Meanwhile, a passenger told Reuters that passengers not wearing seatbelts smashed into the overheard cabins as the turbulence suddenly jolted the plane.

Ceiling fittings were ripped apart and pipework was exposed – and a panicked stewardess was seen with blood pouring from her nose.

Passengers appeared shell-shocked after landing as paramedics and staff helped them off the plane in wheelchairs and on stretchers – with some in neck braces.

Dzafran Azmir, a 28-year-old student, said: “Suddenly the aircraft starts tilting up and there was shaking so I started bracing for what was happening.

“And very suddenly there was a very dramatic drop so everyone seated and not wearing seatbelt was launched immediately into the ceiling.

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“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.”

Food, drinks and cutlery were strewn across the galley kitchen of the aircraftCredit: ViralPress

Shocking pictures show a crew member with a blood pouring from her noseCredit: East2West

Passenger Andrew Davies said “the air stewards were stoic and did everything they could”.

He said there was “very little warning” of the turbulence before the plane “just dropped”.

“Passengers with medical training helping as much as they could. CPR on the poor gentleman that passed,” he said adding they had “shouted for a defibrillator”.

Davies told The Times that the crew had been “on their feet when it happened… I don’t think I saw a single one of them who wasn’t injured”.

According to other passengers, seatbelts prevented injuries and prevented people from being “launched into the ceiling” of the aircraft, Sky News reports.

Australian Teandra Tukhunen said she was asleep when she “was woken up because I was thrown to the roof and then to the floor” at Samitivej Srinakarin Hospital in Bangkok.

The 30-year-old, who had her left arm in a sling at the hospital, added that she was pushed to the roof before she had a chance to fasten her seatbelt.

“It was just so quick, over in a couple of seconds and then you’re just shocked. Everyone’s pretty freaked out”.

“Life happens,” she replied when asked if it was scary.

“Things happen. The pilots saved our lives, that’s all that matters in the end.”

Following what he described as “quite scary” experience, passenger Joshua said, “I don’t think I’ll be flying again for a while”.

He recalled hearing “one huge loud noise, things were coming through the ceiling, water everywhere, people crying… it wasn’t a fun end to the journey” while he was lying on a trolley in the same hospital.

Joshua said he was in “a lot of pain” and felt much worse after the news of the passenger’s death “sunk in”.

Geoff Kitchen, 73, died of a heart attack after the Singapore Airlines Boeing flight plunged 7,000ft in just six minutes sparking mid-air panic.

Geoff Kitchen, 73, died of a heart attack after horror turbulence hit the Singapore Airlines flightCredit: Facebook

The granddad, from Thornbury, Gloucestershire, had just begun a six week trip to Singapore, Indonesia, Japan and Australia, with wife Linda when tragedy struck.

The keen amateur actor and former insurance worker was described as “a really nice bloke” by his devastated friends.

Steve Dimond, who lives with wife Jill a few doors down from Geoff in a quiet leafy cul-de-sac in Thornbury, Glos, said: “We are really upset. My wife is upstairs crying.

“He was a really nice guy. I last saw them on Sunday night and my wife saw them drive off on Monday.

“They were going on a big holiday to Singapore, Indonesia, Japan and Australia. They have a son and a daughter.”

Geoff had suffered heart problems in recent years and had stents put in to widen his arteries.

He was the most wonderful human being you could ever know, one of the top ones

Lizzie AdkinsFriend Of Geoff Kitchen

Neighbour and close friend Steve, 73, added: “You wouldn’t know it, he carried on as normal and was very fit and active.

“He was very involved with amateur dramatics and was helping me make scenery for our new production.

“He was a good singer, a fine actor, he was on the committee, he loved musical theatre.

“He and his wife like live music, all sorts, folk jazz, everything.

“He’s known his wife since they were teenagers, they are a lovely couple.”

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“It’s a terrible shock, he was a really nice bloke. They were very adventurous and had been planning the holiday for a long time.

“They spent last weekend with their grandchildren because they wouldn’t be seeing them for a while.”

Geoff, who has a daughter and a son, and his wife Linda were both involved with the Thornbury musical theatre group.

Mr Dimond said: “I will remember him playing a Sultan and a Dame, he was fantastic. A lovely, funny man who could sing and act.”

Friend Lizzie Adkins paid tribute to Geoff, saying: “He was the most wonderful human being you could ever know, one of the top ones, stable and reliable, you always knew you were in safe hands with Geoff.

“He had a really dry sense of humour and had a twinkle in his eye.

“Every time you saw him you just knew he was going to make a funny joke.

“He was a staunch supporter of our musical theatre group, he had been a member for 35 years.

“Within the group he played many roles not just on the stage but also he was secretary, treasurer, he was the chairman, he would do anything for you, anything for the group, he was just amazing.

“The last time I saw him was just after New Year and they were both talking about this holiday, they were both very adventurous travellers, they loved to travel, this was something they were particularly looking forward to.

“It had been planned for a long time, it was something very exciting.”

Geoff was always a gentleman with the utmost honesty and integrity and always did what was right for the group

Thornbury Musical Theatre Group

In a Facebook post shared on Tuesday evening, Thornbury Musical Theatre Group in Bristol said: “It is with a heavy heart that we learn of the devastating news of the passing of our esteemed colleague and friend Geoff Kitchen in the recent Singapore Air Incident.

“Geoff was always a gentleman with the utmost honesty and integrity and always did what was right for the group.

“His commitment to TMTG was unquestionable and he has served the group and the local community of Thornbury for over 35 years, holding various offices within the group, including Chairman, Treasurer and most recently Secretary.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife and the family at this difficult time, and we ask that you respect their privacy.”

Boeing said: “We extend our deepest condolences to the family who lost a loved one and our thoughts are with the passengers and crew.”

The aftermath of the panicked Singapore Airlines flight battered by ‘severe’ turbulenceCredit: Twitter

Staff outside the Singapore Airlines flight ready to help after the ‘severe turbulence’ left one dead and dozens injuredCredit: ViralPress

The Singapore Airlines flight was diverted to the Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok where it made an emergency landing shortly before 4pm local time.

It had been due to land at Singapore’s Changi Airport at 6.10pm local time.

The Boeing 777-300ER plunged from 38,000ft to 31,000ft near the Andaman Sea as it approached Thailand, according to flight tracker FlightRadar24.

A convoy of 13 ambulances raced to the scene in Bangkok – with pictures showing emergency vehicles lined up on the tarmac.

The general manager at the airport in Bangkok described a scene of “panic and chaos”.

He said investigators suspect the severe turbulence was caused by an air pocket.

A spokesperson for Singapore Airlines confirmed one person had died on board due “severe turbulence en-route” to Singapore.

They said: “We can confirm that there are injuries and one fatality on board the Boeing 777-300ER.

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“18 individuals have been hospitalised. Another 12 are being treated in hospitals.

“The remaining passengers and crew are being examined and given treatment, where necessary, at Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok.

“There were a total of 211 passengers and 18 crew on board.

“Singapore Airlines offers its deepest condolences to the family of the deceased.

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

“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.”

Passengers were helped off the plane in wheelchairs and on stretchersCredit: East2West

Rescue teams gear up to move the injured to hospitals in Bangkok on Tuesday eveningCredit: EPA

Rescue workers set up tents on the tarmac to treat the injuredCredit: PONGSAKORNR RODPHAI/UNPIXS

Extreme tropical thunderstorms have been battering the region this week, according to local media reports.

Aviation consultant John Strickland said that “turbulence happens” but even with millions of flights each year, incidents are “limited” and “fatalities are rare”.

He told PA news agency: “Exposure is greater in different parts of the world.

“The South Atlantic, Africa and the Bay of Bengal are all places that spring to mind where there’s a greater incidence.

“There are discussions about whether climate change is influencing an increase in occurrences.”

Mr Strickland said airlines use a variety of methods to minimise the chances of a flight being affected by turbulence, such as weather forecasts, radar and reports from aircraft ahead.

He added: “It can never be taken lightly when airlines recommend you keep the seatbelt loosely fastened throughout the flight.”

A spokesperson for the UK Civil Aviation Authority said: “Our deepest condolences go out to all those who have been affected.

“Accidents of this nature are extremely rare and aviation remains one of the safest forms of travel.”

Last year, five British Airways crew were left with horror injuries and passengers screamed in terror during severe turbulence on another Boeing 777-300ER at 30,000ft.

One of the in-flight team suffered a dislocated ankle and another concussion after being thrown around the cabin following take-off from Singapore.

Singapore Airline’s Boeing 777-300ERs can seat up to 264 passengers and crew.

Injuries from turbulence – a change in the air that can rock a plane – are rare.

Atmospheric pressure, air around mountains and weather fronts or storms can all cause turbulence. Jet streams are a common cause too.

Boeing has found itself plunged into crisis after a series of dangerous jet failures and the death of a company whistleblower.

A window panel on a Boeing 737 was ripped from one plane mid-flight – and a wheel dropped from the bottom of another jet during takeoff.

John Barnett, a former longtime Boeing employee-turned-whistleblower, was found dead in his truck just days after giving evidence against the company which is in the midst of a criminal investigation.

The 737 MAX, most commonly used aircraft for commercial flights in the world, was also grounded in countries around the world between March 2019 and December 2020.

It came after 346 people died in two similar crashes on the planes, the Lion Air flight in October 2018 and the Ethiopian Airlines flight in March 2019.

The aftermath of the violence turbulence on the Singapore Airlines flightCredit: ViralPress

One passenger has been confirmed dead and dozens have been injuredCredit: x/@nnthotnews

Airport staff and emergency services preparing for the arrival of the Singapore Airlines plane in BangkokCredit: ViralPress

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