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.


Survivors described how the plane was preparing to land in heavy rains when it suddenly lifted off again and then came crashing down on the runway. It rammed through a low retaining wall and split in two after it crashed.

Australian Robert Borland, 48, said his pants were on fire and he managed to drag himself to an exit, where he was pulled by another survivor to safety. "People were screaming. There was a fire in the cabin and my clothes caught fire," he said.

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 carriers use older planes that have been leased or purchased after years of use by other airlines.

The McDonnell Douglas MD-82 plane which crashed in Phuket was 24 years old and began flying in Thailand in March this year.

One-Two-Go Airlines began operations in December 2003.

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