Six Britons in intensive care after Singapore airlines turbulence kills 73-year-old

The jet has a set of covered stairs attached to its bow doors. People stand around in hi-vis vests
The jet, a Boeing 777-300ER, after it made an emergency landing at Bangkok - Lillian Suwanrumpha/AFP

Six Britons are in intensive care in Bangkok after their flight from London plunged at high altitude, killing one elderly British passenger, authorities have revealed.

The six are being treated with 14 other passengers from different countries who received serious injuries when Singapore Airlines flight SQ321 hit “sudden extreme turbulence” over Myanmar.

The flight abruptly rose and plunged several times, 10 hours into its journey to Singapore on Tuesday, throwing people around the cabin so violently they left dents in the ceiling.

The drama at 37,000 feet left dozens with head injuries, cuts and broken limbs. Photographs taken inside the plane show the cabin littered with food, drinks bottles and luggage – and oxygen masks dangling from the ceiling.

Mr Kitchen wears red glasses and smiles broadly for the camera
Mr Kitchen, who was 73, was a musical director on the 'holiday of a lifetime' - Pixel8000

Geoffrey Kitchen, 73, died during the flight after suffering a suspected heart attack. The musical director’s family said the trip had been planned as “the holiday of a lifetime”.

A total of 104 patients were taken to hospitals and clinics in Bangkok, after the plane, carrying 211 passengers and 18 crew, made an emergency landing at Suvarnabhumi Airport.

Fifty-eight patients are being treated in three hospitals across the city, Samitivej Srinakarin Hospital said in a statement.

The hospital confirmed 20 patients, including six Britons, remain in Intensive Care Units (ICUs), while a further 38, among them nine British nationals, remain in less acute inpatient care.

Others in ICUs include six Malaysians, three Australians, two Singaporeans and one person each from Hong Kong, New Zealand, and the Philippines.

Among the British travellers injured was 22-year-old Mia Stevenson, who told how she was thrown headfirst into the aircraft’s ceiling.

A man sits on a low wall in shorts being filmed and interviewed by a man holding a microphone marked 'Reuters'
Andrew Davies, 54, was a passenger on the the flight - Lion Schellerer/Reuters

Ms Stevenson said: “I was partially asleep and the next thing I remember is that I just flew upwards and crashed into the ceiling and then fell down really hard into the aisle.

“It was over in seconds and I didn’t know what was going on. I was very confused and just froze. I couldn’t understand what had happened. It was terrifying and I was shocked.”

Speaking by telephone from her hospital bed, Ms Stevenson told The Daily Mail: “I lost perception of everything. But I managed to get back into my seat and put my seat belt back on and then it all became a bit of a blur.

“It was one of the most frightening experiences of my life but somehow a bit of logic managed to kick in. I just wanted the plane to land but I can’t tell you how long it was before that happened because I was so dazed.”

Ms Stevenson, a music student from Bristol who was travelling to Bali for a two-week holiday, said she had not been wearing her seat belt when the plane plunged suddenly.

People sitting in an airport lounge
Stranded passengers who were not seriously injured by the turbulence wait in Bangkok for the relief flight to take them to Singapore - Reuters

She said: “I still feel quite shaken, but I understand that hitting turbulence like this is a very rare event and unlikely to happen to me ever again.

“But I do feel very sad about what happened and I send my condolences to the family of the man who died.”

Dzafran Azmir, a 28-year-old student who was also on the flight, said: “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.”

Allison Barker told the BBC her son Josh, who was aboard the plane, texted her that he was on “a crazy flight” that was making an emergency landing.

“It was terrifying,” she said. “I didn’t know what was going on. We didn’t know whether he’d survived, it was so nerve-racking. It was the longest two hours of my life.”

A relief flight carrying 131 passengers and 12 crew landed at Singapore’s Changi Airport on Wednesday morning.

Scientists have long warned that climate change is likely to increase so-called clear air turbulence, which is invisible to radar.

A study in 2023 found the annual duration of clear air turbulence rose by 17 per cent from 1979 to 2020, with the most severe cases increasing more than 50 per cent.