At least 89 dead in Phuket, Thailand air crash

Sunday, September 16, 2007

A One-Two-GO MD-82 parked at Phuket International Airport.
Image: Seandigger.

A scheduled flight airliner belonging to Thai low-cost carrier One-Two-GO Airlines crashed and split in two on landing at Phuket International Airport in Thailand today. At least 89 people are dead and 41 injured, in the first major incident involving an airliner in Thailand's burgeoning low-cost aviation sector.

One-Two-GO Airlines Flight OG 269, a MD-82 jet, had 123 passengers and seven crew members aboard. The plane was on a regularly scheduled flight from Bangkok's Don Mueang Airport to Phuket. It departed Bangkok at around 2:30 p.m. local time (0730 GMT) and reached Phuket at around 3:40 p.m. Upon landing, the plane skidded off the runway, crashed into some trees and burst into flames.

There was heavy rain, strong winds, and visibility was poor, officials said. "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," civil aviation official Chiasak Angkauwan was quoted as saying.

The airline's official website redirects to a web page listing the 42 injured passengers (one of whom has since died). Phuket (pronounced, roughly, "Poock-get") is a popular holiday destination for tourists.

"We sat on the 18th row. The weather was real bad and there were lots of unusual noises during the landing. Something was obviously wrong [during the landing]," a survivor identified as "John" was quoted as saying in The Nation.

Another passenger, Nong Khaonual, told The Nation that he felt the plane had descended at an unusually high speed, and that it immediately caught fire after it skidded off the runway and came to rest in some trees. Nong said he was able to drag his wife from the plane. He said he and some other survivors were seated at the rear of the aircraft, where the impact of the crash was less severe.

One-Two-GO is the domestic, low-cost subsidiary of Orient Thai Airlines, a small airline that operates a fleet of older Boeing 747 jumbo jets and some smaller MD-82 and MD-83 jets. One-Two-GO is one of several low-cost airlines that have started up in Thailand in recent years.


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