Deputy Phuket Governor Worapot Rattasima said at least 66 bodies were retrieved from the aircraft. Earlier report said most of the victims were foreigners, have been retrieved from wreckage of a One-Two-Go plane at the Phuket airport. The budget airliner exploded and broke in two after it crashlanded and skidded off the runway and crashed into nearby walls on Sunday afternoon. More are feared dead.
Some reports put the death toll at about 80, but this has yet to be confirmed. The nationalities of those onboard are not immediately known, but Phuket is a highly popular destination for overseas tourists. There were 74 Thais on the plane. It's the first local disaster involving low-cost airline following its profileration about four years ago.
A 1126 telephone hotline has been created by the airline to provide immediate information about Flight OG 269. A surviving Thai passenger said the plane "landed hard" and "bounced" and then skidded off the runway. Civil aviation official Chiasak Angkauwan said, "the airplane requested to land but due to the weather in Phuket -- strong wind and heavy rain -- maybe the pilot did not see the runway clearly."
"The plane then fell onto the runway and broke into two. It is expected that there will be a lot of casualties."
"We are rescuing people from the aircraft ... we know now there were 123 passengers and five crew," he told the news channel.
"We won't know what really happened until we get information from the black box."
The airliner services Bangkok-Phuket flights six times a week. The ill-fated airline left Don Muang airport at about 2.30pm. Information now coming in said the plane, which was being used by local budget travel company, One-to-Go Airline, had 123 passengers and five crew.
Officials said victims could have died on impact, or from suffocation and fire resulting from explosions. According to an initial account, the plane's fuselage was torn open when the aircraft crashed into an earth wall, and some of the survivors were those thrown out through the opening.
The aircraft, flight number OG 269, approached the Phuket airport at about 3.40pm from Bangkok. Phuket had earlier been hit by heavy rains. It crashed into trees and walls surrounding the airport. Eye-witnesses said the impact of the crash caused the plane to break in two and they heard a series of explosions. Rescue teams and navy personnel were involved in the rescue operation. All flights in and out of the Phuket airport have been cancelled.
An Irish tourist, identifying himself only as "John", said he was on board the flight. He and his friend survived with bruises all over their bodies. "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]," he said. He and his friend escaped through the emergency door.Meanwhile Transportation Minister Thira Haochareon said Phuket International Airport was temporary closed after the crash.Thira said the body of the aircraft hit the runway and was on fire fire while the pilot made an attempt to pull it off after failed a landing attempt, he said.
Key features of MacDonnel Douglas MD82
Passenger capacity: 175 seatsEngine type: Pratt & Whitney JT 8D217 A/CAircraft speed: Faster than sound by 0.76 times; 430 miles per hourFlight ceiling: 37,000 feetFlight distance: 3,500 kilometres
(Photo and Story Courtesy by the Nation--Thailand) at 8:28pm