Malaysian student recalls ordeal on Singapore Airlines flight, says those without seatbelts flung to the ceiling

  • Nation
  • Tuesday, 21 May 2024

The interior of Flight SQ321 after an emergency landing at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport on May 21. - Reuters/Straits Times/ANN

BANGKOK, Thailand (Reuters): There was little warning of the chaos that was about to be unleashed onboard Singapore Airlines flight SQ321.

With around three hours left on the journey from London to Singapore, Malaysian student Dzafran Azmir got the uneasy feeling the Boeing 777-300R plane was tilting upwards and beginning to shake.

The 28-year-old braced himself and checked he had his seatbelt on. He did. Many of the other passengers did not, he said on Tuesday (May 21).

"Suddenly there was a very dramatic drop so everyone seated and not wearing seatbelt was launched immediately into the ceiling, 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," Dzafran told Reuters.

"People dropped to the ground, my phone flew out of my hand and went a couple aisles to the side, people's shoes flung about," he added.

One passenger was killed and 30 injured after the flight from London fell into an air pocket before encountering turbulence en route on Tuesday, forcing it to make an emergency landing in Bangkok, officials and the airline said.

There were 16 Malaysians on board the flight.

The Straits Times reported that one person, a Briton had died and 71 people were taken to Samitivej Srinakarin Hospital in Bangkok, with some undergoing surgery tonight.

Six passengers were seriously injured, 39 were moderately injured and 26 had minor injuries, the hospital said.

"The crew and people inside lavatories were hurt the most because we discovered people just on the ground not able to get up. There were a lot of spinal and head injuries," Dzafran said.

The captain informed passengers they would be making an emergency landing in Bangkok.

Once the plane was on the tarmac, nurses and rescue workers came in to check on the injured, Dzafran said.

"I don't think they anticipated how bad it was," he said.

Ambulances later arrived and Dzafran said he saw at least 8 people on stretchers being pulled out of the emergency exits. It took 90 minutes to evacuate the plane, he said.

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