22 passengers suffered spinal cord injuries, 6 had head trauma from turbulence-hit SIA flight

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Twenty-two passengers from a Singapore Airlines flight that was hit by severe turbulence on Tuesday have spinal cord injuries and six others, including a two-year-old child, have brain and skull injuries, according to media reports on Friday. Geoffrey Kitchen, a 73-year-old British passenger, died likely due to a heart attack on the Singapore Airlines (SIA) flight SQ321, operating from London (Heathrow) to Singapore.

Nearly 60 passengers were injured after the flight on May 21 encountered “sudden extreme turbulence over the Irrawaddy Basin at 37,000 feet about 10 hours after departure.” The pilot diverted the Boeing 777-300ER carrying 211 passengers and 18 crew members to Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport, making an emergency landing. Twenty people remained in intensive care, although none were life-threatening cases, reported The Straits Times, citing Dr Adinun Kittiratanapaibool, director of Samitivej Srinakarin Hospital in Bangkok.

The oldest patient at the hospital is 83, while the youngest is a two-year-old child who suffered a concussion. A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury that affects brain function. Effects are often short-term and can include headaches and trouble with concentration, memory, balance, mood and sleep. Kittiratanapaibool said there were 40 patients at the hospital after the incident. The London to Singapore flight made an emergency landing in Bangkok. Sixty-five passengers and two crew members were still in Bangkok, said SIA in a Facebook post on Thursday.

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It added that SIA chief executive Goh Choon Phong has been meeting the affected passengers, crew, their family members and loved ones in Bangkok to offer his support personally and to understand their concerns. Also, customer care representatives, who are staff volunteers with training to handle such situations, have been deployed to provide updates to passengers and to help them if needed. Goh said: “We have also facilitated the travel of their family members and loved ones to Bangkok and ensured that they are taken care of too.”

He also thanked the staff at Bangkok Hospital, Samitivej Srinakarin Hospital, and Samitivej Sukhumvit Hospital, where the injured passengers and crew are believed to be hospitalised. Singapore Airlines is in contact with all the passengers and crew members who are still in Bangkok. Customer Care Representatives, who are staff volunteers trained for such situations, have been assigned to provide updates and the necessary support and assistance to each passenger during this difficult time.