43 still hospitalised, potential for hefty payouts after Singapore Airlines flight SQ321 incident

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25th May 2024 – (Singapore) 43 passengers remain hospitalised following severe turbulence on a Singapore Airlines flight, which necessitated an emergency landing in Bangkok this past Tuesday. The airline, flight SQ321, was en route from London to Singapore when it encountered unexpected and violent turbulence over Myanmar, leading to tragic and extensive injuries among passengers and crew.

The majority of the injured are currently receiving medical care at Samitivej Srinakarin Hospital in Bangkok. Among those, 34 patients are being treated at this facility alone, with seven in intensive care—including nationals from Australia, Malaysia, the UK, and New Zealand. The hospital reported that injuries range from spinal cord and brain trauma to less severe but still significant physical damage.

Reports from the hospital on Thursday indicated that 22 individuals suffered spinal injuries, while six others sustained serious brain and skull injuries; fortunately, none of these are life-threatening at this stage. Tragically, a 73-year-old British passenger succumbed to a suspected heart attack during the ordeal.

The incident has not only highlighted the physical dangers of such severe turbulence but also raised significant legal and compensatory considerations. Under the Montreal Convention, Singapore Airlines could face substantial financial liabilities, with compensations potentially reaching into the millions depending on the outcome of ongoing investigations and legal proceedings.

Peter Neenan, a partner at Stewarts law firm in London specialising in aviation litigation, commented on the potential for significant payouts due to the extent of the injuries, which include paralysis and life-altering conditions for some passengers.

In response to the incident, Singapore Airlines has implemented immediate procedural changes to enhance passenger safety. These include the suspension of meal services and hot drinks when the seat belt sign is on, ensuring that all crew members are seated and secured during such signs.