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Singapore Airlines: Aviation experts from around the world begin probe of deadly turbulence

Simon Calder’s Travel

Investigators have arrived in Bangkok to learn how and why severe turbulence sent a Singapore Airlines plane into a sudden dive that tossed passengers and crew around the cabin, leaving a British man dead and dozens others injured.

Twenty people remained in intensive care in hospital after Flight SQ321, which was flying from London’s Heathrow airport to Singapore, hit the turbulence Tuesday over the Andaman Sea. The Boeing 777, which carried 211 passengers and 18 crew members, descended 6,000 feet (around 1,800 meters) in about three minutes, the carrier said.

The captain diverted the plane to Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport, where medical teams evaluated those aboard and sent over 80 to hospital.

The hospital said nine people underwent surgery Tuesday and five more operations were expected to be completed Wednesday. It said it had provided 104 people with medical care, including 19 at its clinic at the airport.

Singapore Airlines sent a special flight to Bangkok on Tuesday night to pick up those well enough to travel. The airline said that 131 passengers and 12 crew members arrived shortly after 5 am. at Singapore’s Changi Airport.

An additional 79 passengers and six crew members stayed in Bangkok, where the majority remained in hospital, said Singapore Airlines CEO Goh Choon Phong.

Samitivej Srinakarin Hospital, where most of the injured were taken, said 20 people were being treated in intensive care while 27 others have been discharged. The ICU patients include six Britons, six Malaysians, three Australians, two Singaporeans and one person each from Hong Kong, New Zealand, and the Philippines, it said.

Officers from Singapore’s Transport Safety Investigation Bureau arrived in Bangkok late on Tuesday, Singapore Transport Minister Chee Hong Tat said.

He added that the US National Transportation Safety Board is also sending an accredited representative and four technical advisors to support the investigation because the incident involved a Boeing plane.

One of 56 Australians listed as passengers on board the flight told Sky News that the seatbelt sign had come on just ahead of the turbulence, but she could not act in time because she had been asleep.

Thirty-year-old Teandra Tukhunen, speaking from a hospital with her left arm in a sling, said she had been “thrown to the roof and then to the floor.”

“It was just so quick, over…

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