Thai airline crash toll 90, probe started

Bangkok, Sep 17 (DPA) Thai Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont is to inspect the One-Two-Go budget airline crash that claimed at least 90 lives, leaving 40 injured, officials said Monday.

One-Two-Go flight OG 269 skidded off the runway Sunday afternoon after landing at Phuket Airport, 640 km south of Bangkok, and crashed into trees and an embankment, splitting in two and bursting into flames.

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The McDonell Douglas MD-82 aircraft was manned by a crew of five with two pilots and was carrying 123 passengers, about 80 of them foreign nationals.

At least 90 died in the crash or in hospital, leaving 40 survivors, said One-Two-Go emergency call centre in Phuket.

Although a list of passengers’ names was available Monday, their nationalities were still unclear. But Phuket hospitals have reported Thais, British, Irish, Iranian, Australian, Swedish, German and Dutch nationals among the injured.

“Local authorities told us that there were four Germans among the injured,” said a German embassy spokesman in Bangkok.

The plane landed at 3.40 p.m. Sunday in a heavy rainstorm.

Both pilots were killed in the crash, as were most of the passengers sitting in the front end of the plane, said Thailand’s deputy transport minister Sansern Wong-Chaum.

Aviation authorities were investigating the cause of the crash.

Survivors claimed the plane came down too quickly.

It was the first major accident for One-Two-Go, a budget airline operated by Orient Thai Airlines, a private Thai company.

Orient Thai Airlines chief executive officer Udom Tantiprasongchai has promised to compensate the victims and injured.

Phuket Airport was still closed to traffic Monday.

An island rimming the Andaman Sea, Phuket is a popular beach destination for Thai and foreign tourists.

Phuket was hard-hit by the Dec 26, 2004 tsunami disaster that killed 5,400 people in the six Thai provinces rimming the Andaman Sea.

One-Two-Go is one of several privately run no-frills airlines operating domestic routes in Thailand.