Singapore Airlines turbulence: Many injured passengers need spinal surgery; 20 still in intensive care

  • Bangkok hospital's director Adinun Kittiratanapaibool has said 17 surgeries have already been performed, while 13 others injured in the incident remain at two different branches of the hospital.

Written By Saurav Mukherjee
Updated23 May 2024
Adinun Kittiratanapaibool, Director of Samitivej Srinakarin Hospital, speaks about injured Singapore Airlines passengers during a press conference in Bangkok on Thursday. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha
Adinun Kittiratanapaibool, Director of Samitivej Srinakarin Hospital, speaks about injured Singapore Airlines passengers during a press conference in Bangkok on Thursday. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha(REUTERS)

As many as 20 passengers who were on board a Singapore Airlines flight that hit severe turbulence and diverted to Bangkok for an emergency landing remain in intensive care, and several of them would need spinal surgery, the director of Bangkok's Samitivej Srinakarin Hospital has said.

A 73-year-old British man died after the flight encountered turbulence over the Andaman Sea.

According to an AP report, other local hospitals have been asked to lend their best specialists to assist in the treatments. Samitivej Srinakarin Hospital is treating most of the 104 people hurt in the incident.

ALSO READ: Singapore Airlines: 3 Indians among passengers aboard flight hit by ‘sudden extreme turbulence’

The hospital's director, Adinun Kittiratanapaibool, said at a news conference on May 23 that none of the 20 patients in the ICU were in life-threatening condition. They include six Britons, six Malaysians, three Australians, two Singaporeans and one person each from Hong Kong, New Zealand, and the Philippines.

Passengers had earlier shared their experience of the aircraft shuddering, loose items flying and injured people lying paralysed on the floor of the plane.

ALSO READ: Videos show 'severe turbulence' on Singapore Airlines flight: 'Blood everywhere, flight attendant thrown off'

It is still unclear what exactly caused the turbulence on the flight, which was carrying 211 passengers and 18 crew members. The flight was diverted to Thailand.

The hospital director informed that of the 41 persons who had remained at Samitivej Srinakarin Hospital on Thursday morning, 22 had spinal or spinal cord damage, six had skull or brain injuries, and 13 had damage to bones or internal organs.

He added that 17 surgeries have already been performed — nine spinal surgeries and eight for other injuries, while 13 others injured in the incident remain at two different branches of the hospital. The injured passengers include 19 men and 22 women aged from 2 years to 83 years.

ALSO READ: Singapore Airlines turbulence spotlights world's most unstable flight routes — From Chile, to Bolivia & Japan. Details

On being asked about the prognosis for the most severe cases, Adinun said it was too early to tell if any could suffer permanent paralysis, and doctors would have to observe whether muscle function recovered after surgery.

Meanwhile, on May 22, a Singapore Airlines flight took 143 uninjured or lightly hurt people onward to Singapore.

According to a 2021 report by the US National Transportation Safety Board, turbulence accounted for 37.6 per cent of all accidents on larger commercial airlines between 2009 and 2018. The Federal Aviation Administration, another US government agency, has said there were 146 serious injuries from turbulence from 2009 to 2021.

With agency inputs.

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