Fiery Phuket plane crash kills 91
Survivors of a plane crash Sunday in which 91 people died
described scenes of passengers on fire and leaping from exits to save
One-Two-Go Airlines flight OG269 was carrying 123 passengers and seven crew
members to Phuket from Bangkok, said Monrudee Gettuphan, spokeswoman for
Airports of Thailand. There were 78 foreigners on board, 55 of them perished
The deputy governor of Phuket province, Worapot Ratthaseema, said the dead
included French, German, Israeli, Australian and British nationals. Their
names have not released.
It was not immediately clear how many foreigners had died, he said. However,
Thailand’s Public Health and Interior Ministries issued lists of almost 30
Officials said the McDonnell Douglas MD-82 was attempting to land in driving
wind and rain but skidded off the runway, ran though a low retaining wall
and broke into two parts. Survivors said they escaped from emergency exits
as the plane caught fire.
About 60 bodies were retrieved quickly, but it took hours to get the other
bodies out. Three bodies remained in the wreckage about nine hours after the
accident, said Deputy Transport Minister Sansern Wongcha-um.
Survivors said the plane landed hard and out of control.
“Our plane was landing, you can tell it was in trouble, because it kind of
landed then came up again the second time,” said John Gerard O’Donnell of
Ireland, speaking from his hospital bed.
“I came out on the wing of the plane ... the exit door, it was kind of
crushed and I had to squeeze through. And saw my friend, he was outside. He
just got out before me. And next thing, it really caught fire, then I just
got badly burned, my face, my legs, my arms.”
Piyanooch Ananpakdee, a coordinator at Bangkok Phuket Hospital, where 30 of
the survivors were taken, said they told her passengers had stepped on each
other as they tried to flee the aircraft as it filled with black smoke.
Many of those injured had broken legs and similar injuries from jumping from
the burning plane, she said.
Officials said it was too early to establish the cause of the crash, but
some said the weather was likely a factor.
“The visibility was poor as the pilot attempted to land. He decided to make
a go-around (make another landing attempt) but the plane lost balance and
crashed,” said Chaisak Angsuwan, director general of the Air Transport
Authority of Thailand. “It was torn into two parts.”
Regardless of the cause, the accident was likely to raise fresh questions
about the safety of budget airlines in Southeast Asia, which have burgeoned
in the past few years. None of Thailand’s budget airlines, including
One-Two-Go, had previously suffered a major accident, but there have been
several calamitous crashes in Indonesia.
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
first put into service in 1983, and began flying in Thailand in March this
“As soon as we hit, everything went dark and everything fell,” said Mildred
Furlong, 23, a waitress from Prince George, British Columbia, in Canada. The
plane started filling with smoke and fires broke out, she said. A passenger
in front of her caught fire, while one in the back kicked out a plane
“I saw passengers engulfed in fire as I stepped over them on the way out of
the plane,” Parinwit Chusaeng, who was slightly burned, said on The Nation
TV channel. “I was afraid that the airplane was going to explode, so I ran
Parts of the twisted plane lay smoking at the side of the runway. Searchers
in masks converged on the plane, carrying bodies wrapped in white sheets to
an airport storage building.
Dr. Charnsilp Wacharajira, who carried out autopsies on some of those
killed, said they died of traumatic injuries to the head, indicating that
the impact of the crash rather than the fire killed them.
Piyanooch said there were five people in critical condition at her hospital,
including a British woman with burns over 60 percent of her body and another
person with broken ribs.
One-Two-Go Airlines began operations in December 2003 and is the domestic
subsidiary of Orient-Thai Airlines, a regional charter carrier based in
Family members seeking information from the airline can contact the
One-Two-Go hotline at 1126 or dial 076-351144 or 076-351166. AP
Half a million sandbags at the ready
City prepares for floods
Maj. Gen. Natchapat
Somboonsri, the commander of the 33rd Army, Kawila Camp, monitors his
soldiers as they fill and place sandbags along the Ping riverbank.
By Saksit Meesubkwang
Soldiers from the Kawila Army Camp have been busy filling half a million
sandbags as the city prepares for flooding along the Ping River.
Several flood-sensitive areas targeted include the Kawila Army Camp, Prao
Nok village (opposite to the 5th Provincial Police Bureau) and the Montfort
and Regina Schools, all of them situated along the Ping riverbank.
Maj. Gen. Natchapat Somboonsri, the Commander of the 33rd Army, Kawila Camp,
stated that even though there were no signs of flooding, the camp’s 100
soldiers had prepared the sandbags in advance in preparation for any
Careful consideration has been given as to where to store the sandbags so as
not to ruin the image of the city added the Commander of the Army.
Residents who desire to have a flood wall in front of their properties can
contact the Kawila Camp for service. The sandbags will be delivered to those
who have asked for the service free of charge. “Four thousand soldiers are
on hand to relieve any unexpected flooding, provide rescue and service to
victims in Chiang Mai, Lamphun and Mae Hong Son,” explained the Commander.
Pot tours not welcomed in Pai
Col. Nopporn Ruenchan, Commander of the 7th Infantry Regiment Taskforce in
Mae Hong Son met with Pai tour guides to warn them not to provide “drug
tours” to visiting foreigners.
Nopporn Ruenchan, commander of the 7th Infantry Regiment Taskforce, Mae Hong
Son together with 120 soldiers, police and administrative officers
destroying the discovered pot farm at Ban Wai village near Pai.
Tourists visiting the scenic town of Pai have apparently been requesting
more than just an average tour of hilltribe villages.
According to the Office of the Narcotic Control Board visitors have been
touring the hilltribe villages for the purpose of purchasing and consuming
marijuana which has proliferated in the area.
Last week the Commander and his troops discovered a 1200 plant marijuana
plantation in Ban Wai village. The troops chopped down the illegal crop and
then burned the 1400 kilo seizure.
Pai police officers have noticed that tourists have been returning from
these “pot tours” carrying stashes but the source of the marijuana was
difficult to confirm.
As police investigations surfaced it was quickly determined that marijuana
was being grown in several villages hidden amongst the farmers vegetable and
Meanwhile the Commander warned all Pai tour guides to present only positive
attractions such as the natural beauty and hilltribe life styles instead of
introducing them to drug activities. “Drug tours are not a sustainable
program when compared with natural attractions,” said Col. Nopporn.
Rangers clash with drug traffickers
A drug suppression unit of the Border Rangers was involved in a skirmish
with a drugs caravan that had illicitly entered from Myanmar which resulted
in the death of one of the traffickers. Following the gun battle an
additional support division was sent in fearing that the enemy would seek
The Rangers from Mae Sarieng, Mae Hong Son led by Officer Prayoon Sukhampee
and 11 men went out on patrol around Huay Mae Po along the Thai-Myanmar
border when they came across a group of 10 men transporting drugs.
The confrontation led to a 20 minute gun battle before the traffickers
When the group retreated, the officers moved in to clear the area and found
one dead and an M16 rifle made in Singapore which are used among the ethnic
minority groups in Myanmar. A quantity of ammunition was also found.
Gen. Bunyuen Inkwang, Commander of the Border Patrol Police Division 36 Mae
Sarieng said a group of Wa tribesmen found out that drugs were going to be
smuggled into the country through the said area, so he ordered the drug
suppression unit to patrol the area and attack the smugglers.
Samurai motorcycle gang resurfaces
Gang leader still at large
A 21 year old man was viciously stabbed with a Samurai
sword wielding group of motorcyclists in Sankhampheang leaving him seriously
The attack occurred in front of the Esso gas station on Sankhampheang -
Chiang Mai Road on September 7th.
The victim’s mother filed a police report which initiated an investigation
that led to the arrest of one of the alleged gang members.
The infamous Samurai gang terrorized residents of Chiang Mai years ago as
they drove through the streets stabbing drivers and pedestrians with Samurai
Police were finally able to crackdown on the gang and it was disbanded.
This copycat group apparently has many members and the gang leader, only
“Saek Sankhampheang” is still at large according to the police.
Police arrested 19 year old Vach or Olin Panyarat who admitted that he had
been involved in attacking other gang members with Samurai swords on
numerous occasions and couldn’t remember the number of times or places.
According to Pol. Lt. Col. Vitoon Voravil, police are still looking for many
members of Vach’s group and after his arrest the authorities now know the
identities of all of them. Reported by Thai News
on convention center
It’s back to square one for the construction of Chiang
Mai’s convention center because the Auditor General of Thailand (AGT) wants
the project to be put through a bidding process for the design and building
contractors again, using the government agency’s format this time for
Tourism minister, Dr Suvit Yodmani, said the AGT raised concerns over the
e-auction process for not being transparent enough, even though it is what
state enterprises practice.
The project is also facing a budget setback. Although an initial 400 million
baht (US $12 million) was approved last year for the first phase of the
construction, some 160 million was spent on a TAT stimulus tourism campaign
for this year’s low season. The entire project will cost 1.9 billion baht
and take around two years to build.
Dr Suvit, who in July announced the construction would start by the end of
this year, said: “I can’t confirm now if the construction will start by
then. But I personally believe it will eventually be built given the fact
that the Chiang Mai travel trade has wanted it for more than 15 years.”
Billboards under scrutiny
Madame Mayor begins beautifying campaign
Of the 140 or so billboards that have sprouted around the city only 79 are
legally registered. The legal signs have generated tax revenues of 18
million baht a year for the city according to municipal tax records.
The Mayor of Chiang Mai Mayor Dr. Duentemduang Na Chiang Mai believes the
eyesores are not worth the money and the billboards are spoiling the image
of the city and are safety hazards as many tend to collapse during wind
“A significant number of tourists have raised their complaints against these
billboards and many are not registered as required by law,” said the Mayor.
She met with business owners to discuss ways to control the proliferation of
illegal signs and has taken steps to remove all illegally posted ones by the
end of this month.
The Mayor further announced that no permanent private-owned billboards or
signs will be allowed within any public and municipal areas.
All illegal billboards will be removed by September 30th.
Those companies who have signed long term contracts with the city will be
exempt from removing their billboards but must do so once their terms
The Municipality will no longer issue new permits or extensions for
CMU faculty and students
build surveillance drones
Proud teachers and students
check out the CMU-1 surveillance drone built at Chiang Mai University.
The Faculty of Engineering at Chiang Mai University has
built two air surveillance drones, the CMU-1 and CMU-2 to promote security
and safety activities around the northernmost border regions and tourist
The drones have been designed to remain airborne for long periods and
transmit data over GPS satellites.
The air surveillance drones project is the work of Prof. Dr. Samphan
Chaiyathaep of the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering. He received
sponsorship for the project from the State Budget 2005-2007 for the Air
Surveillance Drones to fund the work.
The drones are able to transmit data and point locations and can also be
remotely controlled from long distances. They can also be used as early
warning systems, suppression activities and ease social disasters.
Additionally, they can also be used to further security activities,
especially in the Northern provinces.
So far the project has managed to build two drones, CMU-1 and CMU-2 while
X-CMU-3 and 4 are presently being developed and will be tested at a later
The remote control and data transmission systems use GPS (Global Positioning
Satellites). The system is able to transmit data over a distance of 1,000
meters in open areas. The GPS shows position, speed and route of the drones
on a monitor. The drones also employ emergency remote control systems and
long distance automatic flying.
The engine and drive has been developed and modified from a four cylinder
engine and consumes gasoline and uses a Pulse Jet system for greater
The system has been shown at three training courses attended by 200 people
comprising secondary school students, mechanical engineering students and
government air surveillance organizations. Others who have shown interest in
participating in the research and development include the 41 Flight Command,
Rachapat University and Rachamonkol Lanna University.
Small plane crashes into housing estate
Two foreigners injured
A mangled mess as this single
engine rented plane crashed into a housing estate in Lamphun. Two on board
were seriously injured and remain hospitalized.
A small single engine plane on a sightseeing tour crashed into the gardens
of a home in the Sirinakorn Housing Estate in Lamphun severely injuring the
pilot and the passenger in the front seat. The two other passengers in the
back row escaped unharmed.
The crash occurred on September 12th at 4pm according to the police.
The single engine plane belonged to the Saha Group and had been rented by
the group of foreigners for an aerial tour of Lamphun.
The pilot, Christopher Newman, 63, from England and the other injured
passenger from Belgium who name is unknown were rushed to Rajavej Hospital.
The other two passengers also from Belgium did not require medical
The plane had been flying for 20 minutes when trouble began according to the
initial accident reports. The pilot attempted to lower the altitude of the
plane but the controls failed to function properly.
The plane crashed into a tree in the garden belonging to Pichai Sinthuchat,
52, who is the owner of the Yaowarat gold shop in Lamphun. He was not at
home at the time of the crash.
At press time both injured passengers were still being treated at Rajavej
The cause of the plane crash is still under investigation.