Airline official says wind shear may have caused plane crash in Thailand that killed 89

Aircraft skidded off runway in driving rain

Many of the passengers had planned to vacation at Phuket, a popular beach resort that was among the areas hit hardest by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, which killed more than 8,000 people on the island and other areas of Thailand along the Andaman Sea coast.

Finance Minister Chalongphob Sussangkarn said the crash probably wouldn't affect tourism - a key money maker for Thailand - but said officials would "have to take a look at the procedures and the security standards and investigate what happened."

It was Thailand's deadliest aviation accident since Dec. 11, 1998, when 101 people were killed when a Thai Airways plane crashed while trying to land in heavy rain at Surat Thani, 530 kilometers (330 miles) south of Bangkok. Forty-five people survived.

The new accident raised new questions about the safety of budget airlines in Southeast Asia, which have experienced rapid growth in recent years and often scramble to find qualified pilots.

Many budget airlines use older planes that have been leased or purchased after years of use by other airlines. According to Thai and U.S. aviation registration data, the plane that crashed in Phuket was manufactured and put into use in 1983, and began flying in Thailand in March this year.

One-Two-Go Airlines began operations in December 2003 and is the domestic subsidiary of Orient-Thai Airlines, a regional charter carrier based in Thailand.

Orient-Thai Airlines owner, Udom Tantiprasongchai, has had a colorful history in the aviation industry. He's credited with establishing the country's first budget carrier and his Orient-Thai Airlines has transported refugees around the world for the United Nations, said Dalad, who is also Udom's daughter.

But he also has had his problems. His first airline venture, Cambodian International Airlines went under in 1998, and he has struggled to compete against better financed rivals like Air Asia, she said.

One-Two-Go set up telephone hot lines for information on passengers: +66-851554622, +66-859115092, +66-859183422, +66-25357662, +66-25043227 and +66-25043641.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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