Singapore Airlines fatality: Geoffrey Kitchen identified as dead British man, eight Aussies hospitalised

Matt Shrivell
The Nightly
3 Min Read
A British man has died and dozens more have been injured in a terrifying midair emergency. The Singapore Airlines flight with many Australians on board hit severe turbulence and was forced to make an emergency landing in Bangkok.

A British grandfather on his way to Australia for a holiday has been identified as the passenger who died on the Singapore Airlines Boeing 777 flight that plummeted 6000 feet overnight.

Geoffrey Kitchen, 73, suffered a suspected heart attack and died soon after, as the plane went into freefall for several minutes, throwing passengers into the ceiling and around the cabin.

Mr Kitchen, a musical theatre teacher from Gloucestershire, and his wife were among the 211 passengers on board — including 56 Australians — and 18 crew.

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More than 30 people are now being treated for serious injuries after the flight was diverted to Bangkok.

Singapore Airlines general manager Kittipong Kittikachorn of Suvarnabhumi Airport told a news conference that the British man appeared to have suffered a heart attack, but medical authorities would need to confirm that.

‘’Seven passengers were severely injured, and 23 passengers and nine crew members had moderate injuries. Sixteen with less serious injuries received hospital treatment and 14 were treated at the airport,’’ Kittikachorn said.

Consular officials from the Australian Embassy in Bangkok are providing consular assistance to eight Australians taken to hospital in Bangkok,” a Department of Foreign Affairs spokesperson said.

“The Australian Embassy in Bangkok and the Australian High Commission in Singapore continue to make inquiries to confirm if any further Australians are affected.”

Hugh Whitfeld 7NEWS UK correspondent, gave an update on Sunrise, saying: “There are reports of injuries ranging from cuts and bruises right through to the death of a 73-year-old British man, Geoffrey Kitchen, who is said to have suffered a suspected heart attack in the chaos,” Whitfield said.

“Passengers and crew tried to revive him with CPR but were unable to. There are reports more than 70 people needed hospital treatment in Bangkok. Seven people are listed as being critically injured.

“A line-up of ambulances scrambling to the plane as it landed at Bangkok, with triage tents set up on the tarmac. 211 passengers were on board, 18 crew, a Boeing 777.”

Aviation experts are scrambling to understand the weather patterns that led one of the world’s biggest passenger jets to unknowingly hit an air pocket that had such catastrophic consequences.

The British passenger who died onboard a Singapore Airlines jet travelling from the UK has been named as Geoffrey Kitchen.
The British passenger who died onboard a Singapore Airlines jet travelling from the UK has been named as Geoffrey Kitchen. Credit: X

Aviation consultant and pilot, Tim Atkinson told the Sky News Daily podcast he believes “it’s fairly clear” the Singapore Airlines flight “encountered atmospheric turbulence”.

The disruption in the air current which helps a plane to fly results in shaking referred to as turbulence. Also known as air pockets, major turbulence can also cause a sudden loss of altitude.

For a plane to fly stably, airflow passing over and under the wings needs to be regular. However, some weather events can cause irregularity in the airflow, creating large air pockets and turbulence occurs.

He noted that the area — called the Intertropical Convergence Zone — where the Boeing 777 plunged 6000 feet is “renowned among pilots, and I dare say passengers, for turbulence”.

“Despite abundant caution occasionally, there’s turbulence ahead which can’t be identified,” he said.

Mr Atkinson also noted that the larger the aircraft, “the worse the atmospheric perturbation, the disruption in the smoothness of the atmosphere, needs to be to cause major problems”.

‘’The 777 is one of the largest and, I daresay, most solid airframes widely flying worldwide.”

Singapore Airlines has established a hotline to assist families of passengers seeking information on +65 6542 3311.

Australians seeking emergency consular assistance can contact the Australian Government’s 24-hour Consular Emergency hotline at +61 2 6261 3305 (from overseas) or 1300 555 135 (within Australia).

With AAP.

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