16 September, 2007

PHUKET PLANE CRASH TOLL MOUNTS

Latest update :

Services at Phuket International Airport were suspended while airport workers and emergency personnel cleared the runway of wreckage in the aftermath of the horrendous crash of a budget passenger airliner Sunday afternoon.

Meanwhile, the unofficial death toll rose to 88, with 42 persons injured, and mainly hospitalised.

Before leaving Bangkok for Phuket together with many senior officials of the ministry, Thailand's Deputy Minister of Transport Sansern Wongcha-um on Sunday evening said that the airport in the southern province is expected to resume operations on Monday morning, at 6 am.

About 1,000 passengers could not travel after four flights were cancelled: three Bangkok-bound and the fourth for Hong Kong


PHUKET PLANE CRASH TOLL MOUNTS

Bangkok Post

A One-To-Go Airlines passenger jet with 128 people aboard crashed and burned while landing at Phuket Airport in foul weather Sunday afternoon. Phuket deputy governor Vorapot Rajsima said 88 people were confirmed dead.

At least 29 people were confirmed to have survived, including two Australians.

"Nearly half the passengers were foreign tourists," said one survivor, Nong Khaonuan. In a TV interview, he said. "I've flown on many airplanes before and I can say there was something strange about our landing. We seemed to drop down too fast."

There was hope that many survived after TiTV showed two foreigners being carried away to local hospital. But the fire that ripped through the crashed aircraft apparently claimed dozens of lives.

The MD82 plane of the budget airline skidded off the runway after landing on a flight from Don Muang airport in Bangkok, and crashed into trees, bursting into fire.

"The fire was throughout the airplane," said Phuket Deputy Governor Worraphot Ratsrimaa. "We expect that at least 90 per cent of the passengers died."

"The plane was landing and slid off the runway. We are rescuing people and carrying injured people to hospitals," said Pol Lt Sokchai Limcharoen, a police officer in the area in an early report.

Chaisak Angsuwan, director general of the Air Transport Authority of Thailand said the aircraft broke in two as it attempted to land at Phuket airport in bad weather.

Chaisak said that there was heavy rain when flight OG269 of parent Orient Thai Airways traveling from Bangkok's Don Muang airport to Phuket attempted to make a landing. Planes in both Orient Thai and One-Two-Go livery use the OG flight identifier.

"The visibility was poor as the pilot attempted to land. He decided to make a go-around but the plane lost balance and crashed,". he said. "The plane then fell onto the runway and broke into two. It is expected that there will be deaths.

"The airplane asked to land but due to the weather in Phuket -strong wind and heavy rain -maybe the pilot did not see the runway clearly," said Chaisak.

Witnesses said the airline was using its usual MD-82 twin-engine passenger jet aircraft, a model of the McDonnell-Douglas DC9. One-Two-Go owned seven such planes, which it used for frequent flights around Thailand, including six each day from Bangkok to Phuket and return.

Airport officials and rescue workers are still working to help the victims from the plane which caught fire after it crashlanded and skidded off the runway.

Authorities said there were 123 passengers and five crew members on board when the plane crashed at about 3:35pm Sunday afternoon.

Weather in Phuket has been bad for several days, with thunderstorms and high wind gusts at times.

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