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  • 1440 Daily Digest

Fatal Turbulence

A 73-year-old man died and at least 71 others were injured amid severe turbulence aboard a Singapore Airlines flight from London to Singapore early Tuesday. The flight was redirected for an emergency landing in Thailand, where dozens were treated for back and head injuries, including six critically. 

The Boeing 777 was carrying 229 people at 37,000 feet when the plane abruptly dropped 6,000 feet in roughly two minutes, throwing passengers against the ceiling and around the cabin. Officials identified the deceased as British citizen Geoff Kitchen, who reportedly died of a heart attack during the episode. 

While injuries from turbulence are very rare—with an average of 12 annually from 2008 to 2022 in the US—mild turbulence is a common flight experience. Shifting wind direction or speed, due to weather patterns or the shape of the landscape below, caused the aircraft to move suddenly, similar to the impact of a wave on a boat. Watch a pilot explain here.

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