Pictured: Pensioner, 73, killed during London-Singapore flight named as British musical theatre director

21 May 2024, 17:08 | Updated: 21 May 2024, 17:34

Do you know anyone who was affected or on board the flight? Contact online@lbc.co.uk

British pensioner, 73, killed during London-Singapore flight named as musical theatre director Geoffrey Kitchen
British pensioner, 73, killed during London-Singapore flight named as musical theatre director Geoffrey Kitchen. Picture: Social media

By Christian Oliver

A British pensioner who died after a flight from London to Singapore plummeted during severe turbulence has been named.

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Musical theatre director Geoffrey Kitchen, 73, was travelling in premium economy with his wife when the Singapore Airlines plane flight SQ321 experienced severe turbulence while flying near Myanmar airspace.

The head of Bangkok Airport, where the plane was diverted to, said Mr Kitchen died of a suspected heart attack during the turbulence. An autopsy will now be carried out.

"Singapore Airlines offers its deepest condolences to the family of the deceased," it said in a statement.

Mr Kitchen's wife Linda is also in hospital, the officials said, but that her condition is unknown.

As many as 30 people were injured when the plane fell sharply from 37,000ft to 31,000ft in just five minutes. Some 7 people are in critical condition and 23 have moderate injuries. A total of 211 passengers and 18 crew were on board.

Geoff Kitchen, 73, died of a suspected heart attack
Geoff Kitchen, 73, died of a suspected heart attack. Picture: Social media

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Mr Kitchen, from Thornbury, Gloucestershire, was reportedly on a six-week trip to Singapore, Indonesia, Japan and Australia, when he was killed on the turbulent fight.

He was described as a keen amateur actor and "a really nice bloke" who previously worked as an insurance worker.

Following Mr Kitchen's death and reports of many others being injured, a Downing Street spokeswoman said: "Our thoughts continue to be with all those affected, including with that individual's family."

The Foreign Office is understood to be on the ground to provide support and work with local authorities.

Speaking to The Sun, a neighbour who lives a few doors down from the couple in Thornbury said: “We are really upset. My wife is upstairs crying. He was a really nice guy."

"I last saw them on Sunday night and my wife saw them drive off on Monday."

The couple are understood to have a son and a daughter, and liked to spend weekends with his grandchildren.

The neighbour said Mr Kitchen had suffered heart problems in recent years and had an operation to have stents put in to widen his arteries.

Footage from on board showed dents in the plane's ceiling
Footage from on board showed dents in the plane's ceiling. Picture: Social Media
Passengers who weren't wearing their seatbelts were flung into the ceiling
Passengers who weren't wearing their seatbelts were flung into the ceiling. Picture: Social Media

During the turbulence, any passengers on board not wearing seatbelts were “launched into the ceiling.”

One passenger from London, Andrew Davies, described the scenes of chaos on board to LBC's Andrew Marr.

"I was watching a film then the seatbelt sign came on, I quickly put it on, and a few moments after the plane literally just dropped - lots of people's belongings crashed to the ceiling, there were cups, blankets, pillows, cushions, my shoes vanished.

"It was only when I looked behind me that I realised the gravity of it - an elderly lady had very deep cuts on her forehead and was covered in blood, there were lots of people screaming.

"I got up and tried to help people where I could. The gentleman (who died), we got him out of his seat into the corridor with passengers who were medics doing CPR."

He shared pictures online of passengers making their way off the plane surrounded by airport officials.

Dzafran Azmir, a 28-year-old student on board the flight told Reuters: “Suddenly the aircraft starts tilting up and there was shaking so I started bracing for what was happening, and very suddenly there was a very dramatic drop so everyone seated and not wearing seatbelt was launched immediately into the ceiling.”

“Some people hit their heads on the baggage cabins overhead and dented it, they hit the places where lights and masks are and broke straight through it,” he said.

The plane was forced to carry out an emergency landing in Thailand.

The plane left Heathrow after 10pm last night. It touched down at around 4pm local time in Thailand.

The flight reportedly suffered 'severe turbulence' as Thailand experiences 'extreme' tropical thunderstorms in the region.

Flight radar shows moment Singapore Airlines flight dropped altitude

It was then diverted to the Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok, where it made an emergency landing.

The plane reportedly plunged from 38,000ft to 31,000ft in a matter of minutes, according to Flightradar24.

The aircraft diverted to Bangkok
The aircraft diverted to Bangkok. Picture: FlightRadar24

"Flight #SQ321, operating from London (Heathrow) to Singapore on 20 May 2024, encountered severe turbulence en-route," Singapore Airlines said.

"The aircraft diverted to Bangkok and landed at 1545hrs local time on 21 May 2024."

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"We can confirm that there are injuries and one fatality on board the Boeing 777-300ER. There were a total of 211 passengers and 18 crew on board," the spokesperson continued.

"Singapore Airlines offers its deepest condolences to the family of the deceased.

"Our priority is to provide all possible assistance to all passengers and crew on board the aircraft. We are working with the local authorities in Thailand to provide the necessary medical assistance, and sending a team to Bangkok to provide any additional assistance needed."

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