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The BBC's Jim Fish
"Police and airport officials are investigating the cause"
 real 56k

The BBC's Simon Ingram
"People surrounding the [Thai] Prime Minister are clearly shaken"
 real 56k

Saturday, 3 March, 2001, 12:28 GMT
Fire destroys Thai airliner
Thai firefighters spray water over the burnt Boeing 737
A loud explosion was heard before the fire began
A fire has wrecked a Thai Airways jet which was due to carry the newly elected Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, only minutes before passengers were due to board.


Don't jump to conclusions about sabotage, but I am now having to take special precautions

Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra
One crew member was killed and several other people were injured when the plane - a Boeing 737 - burst into flames on the runway at Bangkok's international airport.

An airport official said 149 passengers were scheduled to have taken the flight.

Police said the body of the crew member had been found in the wreckage of the plane, but that other flight crew and ground staff were safely evacuated before it was completely gutted.

'Not worried'

Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra urged people not to jump to conclusions over the cause of the fire, but said special measures were being taken for his safety.

Firefighters at the international airport in Bangkok
Aviation authorities cut power at the domestic terminal
"I do not know the cause of the fire, but I do know that when the fire started the engines were off," he said.

"I learned of the accident 20 minutes before I was to board. I was on the expressway to the airport" he added.

Mr Thaksin said he was not worried: "I will just keep working as usual."

Flight TG114 had been scheduled to fly to the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai from Bangkok's Don Muang international airport.

Explosion

Airport officials said a loud explosion was heard before the fire broke out.

Firefighters look at the burnt plane
The plane was destroyed
It took about an hour to bring the blaze under control, as ground crew sprayed white foam on to the wreckage.

Aviation authorities cut power at the domestic terminal and diverted all incoming flights to an airport in nearby Chonburi province.

The plane was to have taken Mr Thaksin to Chiang Mai for a meeting. He travelled instead on a military flight.

Thaksin Shinawatra took office last month after his party won Thailand's elections.

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See also:

17 Feb 01 | Asia-Pacific
Thaksin names cabinet
09 Feb 01 | Asia-Pacific
Thai parliament votes Thaksin as PM
08 Jan 01 | Asia-Pacific
Economy is key issue for Thais
06 Jan 01 | Asia-Pacific
Corruption alleged in Thai vote
26 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
Thai party chief in corruption probe
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