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Singapore Airlines: 'Turbulence landed five of my family in ICU'



Singapore Airlines: 'Turbulence landed five of my family in ICU'​

1 hour ago
Kelly Ng & Hannah Ritchie,in Singapore and Sydney
Eva Khoo Eva Khoo at the hospital in Bangkok with her family members who were on the SQ321 flight
Eva Khoo
Eva Khoo (bottom right) has five friends and family who ended up in intensive care after the flight
When Eva Khoo got a phone call last week saying that the Singapore Airlines flight her family was on had “met with an incident”, she was told not to worry.
But hours after the plane had made an emergency landing in Bangkok, the 47-year-old still could not reach her brother and pregnant sister-in-law who were on board the Singapore-bound flight from London, along with a friend and four others in their family.
When she finally heard from her brother late that night, it was a single phrase: ICU.
“Then we stopped hearing from him. That made me even more anxious,” she told the BBC in a phone interview. She then heard from her sister-in-law, who told her she was in the hospital but did not where everyone else was.
The “unexpected severe turbulence” which hit the aircraft had left one passenger dead mid-air and nearly 50 others, including two crew members and a toddler, in hospital, many with serious injuries. More than 20 were admitted to intensive care with spinal injuries.
Tuesday night was “nerve-wracking”, Ms Khoo says. “We had no idea if our loved ones were dead or alive, or how bad their injuries were.”
The next day, she found out all seven were hospitalised in Bangkok. Five of them were in the intensive care unit at the Samitivej Srinakarin Hospital.
She decided to fly to Thailand from Kuala Lumpur, where she lives. “I was relieved when I finally got to meet them, but it was dreadful to see many of them clad in neck and head braces because of their spinal and back injuries.”
It would take her another few days to finally ask what exactly had happened on board the flight.

‘It was like going down a vertical roller coaster’​

Khoo Boo Leong and his wife Saw Rong were returning from a two-week trip to Switzerland and London. Singapore was meant to be a transit stop en route to home in Malaysia. The flight - which had 211 passengers and 18 crew on board - was into the tenth hour of its journey, passing over the Irrawaddy Basin in Myanmar when turbulence struck.
Ms Khoo says her brother remembers that the plane started shaking. “He scrambled to find his seatbelt, but before he could do anything he was hoisted to the ceiling. He hit the overhead luggage compartment and then a few seconds later he flopped onto the aisle. Their belongings were strewn all over,” she said.
He and his wife were sat close to the centre of the plane. Ms Saw, who is two months pregnant, was flung out of her seat. The impact resulted in fractures to her back, which required surgery.
Ali Bukhari Oxygen masks dangling from the overhead panel
Ali Bukhari
Ali Bukhari said he and his wife Ramiza “mentally prepared that we were going to die”
Rows ahead, Keith Davis, who was on board with his wife Kerry Jordan, recalled being thrown into a “zero-gravity situation”.
“We were launched into space hurtling towards the ceiling. It felt as though we were floating,” said Mr Davis, who spoke to the BBC from the hospital in Bangkok. He had a black eye and his head was bandaged.
“[We] were suspended in complete shock and disbelief looking at everything floating around. And then the next moment, your awareness is that you're hurtling straight back down... It was absolutely horrific,” said the 59-year-old Australian.
Ms Jordan, 52, was thrown onto the aisle. The impact on her spine was so great that she had to lie there for the rest of the journey, even as the plane landed.
“I leant over her and asked ‘Are you okay’? She was able to speak quite softly… And then I’m thinking ‘Oh my God, I’m dripping blood all over her dress’,” he said.
Ms Jordan still had in her hand a piece of the seatbelt, he recalled. “The girl behind us was crying out in extreme pain. I didn’t know what to do. I just felt absolutely useless,” Mr Davis said.
Ali Bukhari, who was seated with his wife Ramiza, said the plane “went into that straight freefall”.
“It was terrifying. It's just like going down a vertical roller coaster. Oxygen masks had all come out, parts of the interior of the plane were damaged… I thought that was from the force of the turbulence but a lot of it was just because everyone who wasn't wearing a seatbelt flew right into the air and hit the ceiling,” said the 27-year-old Australian, who was speaking to the BBC from Sydney.
“We saw blood on the ceiling… It was just complete havoc. A lot of people were on the floor,” he said.
A map of the route where the plane hit turbulence

Mr Bukhari and his wife weren’t as badly injured because they were belted up.
“I've always taken my seatbelt off when the seatbelt lights are off. But just by chance, I don't know why, I just had it at this time,” Mr Bhukari said. Still, they were “mentally prepared that we were going to die”.
Ms Bukhari, who has long had a fear of flying, was having a panic attack.
Mr Bukhari said: “I just spent my time keeping my wife as calm as possible… We started reciting as many prayers as we could.”
After a few minutes, the pilot made an announcement.
“He said, ‘We're not sure what happened. But it looks like we underwent a turbulence event, it was unexpected’. He definitely sounded quite shaken.” Other crew members “looked quite beaten up” as they limped back and forth to help injured passengers, he recalled.
Meanwhile, Mr Davis’ seatmate Toby Pearl, from Wales, was providing CPR to a passenger who was unconscious. Unfortunately, the 73-year-old British man, Geoff Kitchen, remained unresponsive and later died from a suspected heart attack.


Watch: Keith Davis recounts moment turbulence left his wife ‘immobile’

‘A beautiful touchdown’​

Mr Davis described his disbelief when the plane finally landed. “Hats off to the pilot, he got that plane down. When it just kissed the tarmac, it was like, ‘Did we actually land?’ It was the most beautiful touchdown to the tarmac,” he said.
Soon after, the medical team in Bangkok came onto the plane. “We were all getting tagged, getting classifications,” said Mr Davis. All this time, Ms Jordan was lying in an “obviously uncomfortable position”, he said.
“[I was] just thinking, how are we going to get her out of here?... It was all a bit of a mess,” he said.
Ms Jordan still can’t feel anything “from her waist down” however she has made “incremental but steady progress” after a few days in the hospital, Mr Davis said.
He is hopeful that the hospital will soon sign off a fit-to-fly certification “so we can get Kerry home as soon as possible”.
“We're just really grateful that we are able to look at each other, talk to each other, kiss each other. We’re just grateful because there are plenty of other scenarios. Kerry might have died right there in front of me on that plane,” he said.
Eva Khoo Khoo Boo Leong (right) and his wife Saw Rong (second from right) were on a two-week Europe tour with five others
Eva Khoo
Khoo Boo Leong (right) and his wife Saw Rong (second from right) were on a two-week Europe tour with five others
Ms Khoo’s family too has been on a rocky road. Doctors had advised Ms Saw to undergo a surgery, but warned of risks to her unborn child.
“At one point a doctor had asked if she was prepared to lose the child… My sister-in-law was hysterical,” Ms Khoo said. But the 33-year-old eventually decided to go ahead and has been recovering well.
Five of Ms Khoo’s family will remain in hospital for some time, including an elderly uncle who said he is learning to walk again, “like a baby”.
“My brother still can’t walk well and needs a wheelchair to get around the hospital,” Ms Khoo said.
Her brother’s friend, who suffered the most debilitating injuries, and is wearing a head and neck brace, will be bound to his bed for a while, she adds.
“We dare not ask how permanent these injuries are. It is really hard for the doctors to answer definitively," Ms Khoo says. “Even when they are finally able to fly home, it will probably take months before they fully heal physically and emotionally.”
It was late on Friday, Ms Khoo said, that she finally managed to sit down for a proper meal - since arriving in Bangkok last Wednesday.
"I finally got a bit of time and appetite after seeing that they are gradually recovering, and that the surgeries went well.”


What the fuck kind of title is this? It should be "Turbulence landed five of my friends and my brother in ICU". Bloody main steam media shamelessly trying to sensationalize their reporting.