On a recent flight from London to Singapore, a Singapore Airlines aircraft encountered severe turbulence over Myanmar, resulting in the death of a passenger and injuries to 71 others. 

The Boeing 777-300ER, carrying 211 passengers and 18 crew members, was forced to make an emergency landing in Bangkok on Tuesday afternoon.

Singapore Airlines Faces Tragic Turbulence, Leaving One Dead and Many Hurt

(Photo : Screenshot image taken from 7News Australia on YouTube)

Singapore Airlines Turbulence Leaves Many Injured

The turbulence occurred approximately 10 hours after departure as the flight traversed the Irrawaddy Basin at 37,000 feet. 

According to reports from FlightRadar24, the aircraft experienced sudden changes in altitude, leading to a chaotic situation onboard. The pilot declared a medical emergency and diverted the plane to Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi International Airport.

CNN revealed that among the injured, six were reported to have severe injuries, with conditions ranging from broken arms to various cuts and bruises. 

The 73-year-old deceased British passenger, Geoff Kitchen, suffered from a heart condition, which may have contributed to his unfortunate passing during the incident.

Singapore Airlines has expressed deep regret over the traumatic event and extended condolences to the family of Kitchen. 

A dedicated team from the airline has been dispatched to Bangkok to provide support to the affected passengers and assist with ongoing investigations. 

The airline, recognized as one of the safest globally, is cooperating with authorities to understand the full scope of the incident and prevent future occurrences.

As the southwest monsoon season begins, such incidents highlight the unpredictable nature of flying during periods of intense tropical thunderstorms, which can develop rapidly and pose significant risks to air travel.

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Turbulence and Climate Change: Growing Risks in the Skies

A recent incident on a Singapore Airlines flight highlighted the increasing risk of turbulence in air travel, which experts link to climate change effects. The flight, traveling from London to Singapore, encountered severe turbulence over Myanmar, leading to one death and injuries to 30 passengers.

The National Transportation Safety Board reports that while turbulence-related fatalities are rare, with none in the U.S. from 2009 to 2023, serious injuries do occur. This event underscores the growing concern among researchers that climate change is making such turbulence more common and severe.

Physicist Larry Cornman of the National Center for Atmospheric Research points out that while these incidents are often a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, the underlying atmospheric motions that cause turbulence are being intensified by global warming. 

Cornman emphasized that modern aircraft are well-built to withstand turbulence, assuring that passengers should feel safe despite these risks, NBC News reported.

Further emphasizing the climate link, a 2023 study found a significant increase in clear-air turbulence over the North Atlantic since 1979. This type of turbulence, particularly challenging to predict and avoid, occurs without visual storm cues and is mainly driven by jet stream instabilities influenced by climate change.

Researchers from the University of Reading, including Mark Prosser, predict that if global warming continues, clear-air turbulence could increase substantially by mid-century. This has serious implications for future air travel safety, requiring both airlines and passengers to adapt to a potentially bumpier sky.

Singapore Airlines has extended its deepest condolences to the affected passengers and crew, reaffirming their commitment to safety amidst these changing atmospheric conditions.

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