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Eight Australians remain in a Bangkok hospital after a terrifying ordeal on a Singapore Airlines flight that left one passenger dead and 70 injured.

The drama unfolded yesterday on flight SQ321 from London to Singapore when severe turbulence rocked the aircraft as it passed over the Irrawaddy Basin in Myanmar. The crew were just serving breakfast when the aircraft fell into an air pocket.

Passengers and crew were flung around the cabin and 73-year-old British man Geoff Kitchen is thought to have had a fatal heart attack as the plane plunged dramatically.

The pilot declared a medical emergency and diverted the aircraft – a Boeing 777-300ER – to Bangkok.

Some 56 Australians were among the 211 passengers and 18 crew onboard the flight.

“This is a terrible experience that these people have gone through,” Australia’s Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil told Channel Seven’s Sunrise.

“As usual, the Australian government will provide consular assistance wherever we can, wherever it’s needed, to those people.”

Images posted on social media by passengers on the troubled flight showed debris on the floor, damaged overhead bins and oxygen masks hanging down. It is thought several of the injured passengers were flung into the overhead bins by the force of the turbulence, which lasted for almost a minute.

Malaysian student Dzafran Azmir, 28, told Reuters he started bracing himself when the aircraft began tilting up and shaking.

“Suddenly there was a very dramatic drop, so everyone seated and not wearing a seatbelt was launched immediately into the ceiling,” he said.

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

“The crew and people inside lavatories were hurt the most because we discovered people just on the ground, not able to get up. There were a lot of spinal and head injuries.”

Turbulence, a common yet often unsettling aspect of air travel, is caused by various atmospheric conditions, including air pressure changes, jet streams and weather systems.

While modern aircraft are designed to withstand significant turbulence, the intensity of this incident serves as a stark reminder of its potential severity.

Experts say that severe turbulence, although rare, can occur without warning, making it crucial for passengers to heed safety instructions, keep seat belts fastened when seated and follow crew directives during flights.

In a statement, Singapore Airlines said: “We deeply apologise for the traumatic experience that our passengers and crew members suffered on this flight. We are providing all necessary assistance during this difficult time.”