Fri, Oct 03, 2008 - Page 2 News List

Turbulence leaves 21 injured on CAL flight to Bangkok

STAFF WRITER, WITH AGENCIES

Twenty-one people, including crew members, were injured yesterday by turbulence when a China Airlines (CAL) flight from Hong Kong was preparing to land at Bangkok International Airport yesterday.

“Flight CI 641 arrived in Bangkok safely, and the injured, including five crew members and 16 passengers, received hospital treatment,” the airline said in a statement.

Of the 21 injured, two people sustained severe but not life-threatening injuries, a spokesman for CAL’s branch office in Thailand said.

None of the 16 passengers were from Taiwan, the spokesman said.

The injured were rushed to a nearby hospital.

Chairat Panthuraamphorn, a doctor at Bangkok’s Samitivej Srinakarin Hospital, said two people sustained serious spine injuries.

A total of 147 passengers and 18 crew members were on board the plane when the turbulence occurred without warning over Thai airspace, the airline said.

The crew and some passengers were injured because they had failed to fasten their seat belts while the aircraft was descending, the spokesman said.

A spokeswoman for Airports of Thailand, who insisted that she not be named because she was not authorized to release information to the media, said the Boeing 747-400 was hit by turbulence about 20 minutes before landing at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport at about 1:30pm.

A duty officer at the airport, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said the captain of the flight contacted the control tower to ask permission to land ahead of schedule and to have doctors and ambulances standing by to take care of the injured.

This is the carrier’s second incident in less than one month.

On Sept. 20, China Airlines flight 687 encountered turbulence on its way from Taipei to Bali, Indonesia, injuring 30 people. Eight of the injured, including four crew members, were admitted to a hospital in Bali after the plane touched down safely. The incident took place when the plane was flying over Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia. The aircraft dropped rapidly, causing unsecured passengers to bump their heads.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY ELIZABETH TCHII

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