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Compensation for passengers hurt on turbulent Singapore flight

Flight turbulence aftermath

Source: X/FL360aero

Singapore Airlines will pay out thousands of dollars in compensation to passengers on board a flight that encountered severe turbulence that led to dozens of injuries and one death.

Passengers with minor injuries have been offered $10,000 and those with serious injuries could discuss an offer to meet their specific needs, the airline said on Tuesday.

“Passengers medically assessed as having sustained serious injuries, requiring long-term medical care, and requesting financial assistance are offered an advance payment of $25,000 to address their immediate needs”, that will form part of any final settlement, the airline said.

A 73-year-old passenger, named as Geoff Kitchen, died of a suspected heart attack and dozens were injured in May after flight SQ321 from London to Singapore encountered what the airline described as sudden, extreme turbulence while flying over Myanmar. The plane, which had plunged an estimated 1800 metres in just three minutes, diverted and landed in Bangkok shortly afterwards.

“I was asleep, and then I was woken up because I was thrown to the roof and then to the floor,” Melbourne woman Teandra Tukhunen told Sky News UK from hospital in Bangkok the next day.

Tukhunen, who was not wearing her seatbelt when the turbulence hit, had her arm in a sling.

“I woke up because of the turbulence, and then when they put on the seatbelt sign, pretty much immediately, straight after that I was flung to the roof, before I even had time to put my seatbelt on unfortunately,” the 30-year-old said.

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

Adelaide man Keith Davis, whose wife Kerry Jordan was seriously injured in the incident, said there was “absolute carnage” aboard when the turbulence hit without warning.

“We just fell into a free-fall zone … and before we knew it, we’re on the ceiling, and then, bang, we’re on the ground,” he told Nine’s Today show.

“[Jordan] fell into the aisle, she didn’t move from then on … That was where she remained for the rest of the flight – it was really horrifying.”

Keith Davis relates flight horror

Source: Today show

Passengers said crew and anyone not strapped in left the floor or their seats and slammed into the cabin ceiling, cracking it in places. A Bangkok hospital treating passengers said there were spinal cord, brain and skull injuries.

As of June 4, more than two weeks after the May 20 flight, 20 passengers remained in hospitals in Bangkok, according to the airline. It did not respond immediately to a request for an updated figure.

Singapore Airlines said it would refund airfares for all passengers on board the flight. They will also receive delay compensation in accordance with regulations in the European Union or Britain.

A preliminary report by Singapore’s Transport Ministry said a rapid change in gravitational force and a 54-metre altitude drop likely caused passengers and crew to become airborne.

It said the plane was likely flying over an area of “developing convective activity”, a term referring to developing bad weather.

There were 211 passengers, including 56 Australians, and 18 crew members on the flight.

The incident has put seatbelt practices in the spotlight. Airlines typically allow passengers to undo belts during normal cruise conditions, while recommending they keep them on.

-with AAP

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