Airline Official Says Wind Shear May Have Caused Plane Crash in Thailand that Killed 89

The budget One-Two-Go Airlines flight was carrying 123 passengers and seven crew from Bangkok to Phuket on Sunday when it skidded off the runway while landing in driving wind and rain, catching fire and engulfing some passengers in flames.


PHUKET, Thailand_Investigators searched Monday through charred remains of a plane that crashed and killed 89 people - mostly foreigners - on Thailand's resort island of Phuket, while an airline official said wind shear may have doomed the flight.

An unofficial list compiled by the Thai Foreign Ministry showed that among the dead were six Britons, three Israelis, two Americans, two French nationals, and one victim each from Australia, Germany, Iran, Ireland and Sweden.

However, the list is incomplete as more than 30 foreign fatalities had not yet been positively identified.

The budget One-Two-Go Airlines flight was carrying 123 passengers and seven crew from Bangkok to Phuket on Sunday when it skidded off the runway while landing in driving wind and rain, catching fire and engulfing some passengers in flames.

Deputy Transport Minister Sansern Wongcha-um told reporters that 89 people, including 53 foreigners, were killed in the crash, and 41 others injured.

According to a transcript of the conversation between the control tower and the plane, ground officials informed the Indonesian pilot, Arief Mulyadi, about wind shear at the airport but he decided to land anyway, the Air Transport Department's director-general, Chaisak Ungsuwan, said on The Nation TV channel.

"The last word the pilot said was 'landing,'" he said.

Wind shear refers to sudden changes in the wind along a plane's flight path which can result in a disastrous loss of lift on the wings.

"We are still unable to say the cause of the accident," Transport Minister Theera Haocharoen said. "The officials have found the black boxes and will send them for analysis to the United States. Hopefully, we will learn in a few weeks the cause of the accident." Others suggested it could take a year to determine the cause.

Kajit Habnanonda, president of Orient-Thai Airlines, which owns One-Two-Go, said wind shear could have been a factor.

"It is possible that the plane crash was caused by wind shear," Kajit said, adding that heavy rains could have contributed to the plane skidding off the runway.

Maj. Gen. Santhan Chayanon, deputy police commander of the region including Phuket, said that bodies of the foreign victims will be kept in refrigerated containers at the airport until their families claim them.

Authorities will also collect DNA samples of unidentified victims, he said.

The Indonesian pilot and Thai co-pilot were both killed in the crash.

Israel - which had 10 citizens on the flight - has sent medics and rescue personnel to help locate and identify any fatalities, according the Israeli rescue service, Magen David Adom.

Dalad Tantiprasongchai, a business development manager with Orient-Thai Airlines, said the airline would provide an initial 100,000 baht (US$3,125; €2,255) to families of the dead for funeral and other costs.

"We are deeply sorry about all the losses," Dalad said, reading from a prepared statement. "We are doing our best to investigate and are working to help the remaining survivors and families and relatives to get through this as quickly as they can."

Phuket airport, which was closed after the crash, reopened late Monday afternoon after virtually all the debris from Flight OG269 had been removed. Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont was on the first flight to the reopened airport, and he paid a call on hospitalized survivors.

"I don't think this will have an impact on tourism in Thailand because tourists understand that it is an accident," Surayud told reporters.

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