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Saturday, December 12, 1998 Published at 06:05 GMT

World: Asia-Pacific

Search for crash bodies resumes

Salvage work has been hampered by mud and rain

Salvage work following an air crash in southern Thailand has restarted at first light, but workers say there is little chance of finding any more survivors.

George Eykyn: "Rescuers waded through waist-deep water"
The death toll is expected to reach 100, although up to 20 bodies have yet to be accounted for. At least 44 people have been rescued from the European-made A310-200 Airbus, which crashed into a swamp near the holiday resort of Surat Thani.

The victims include a member of the Thai parliament and the sister of the country's transport minister.

Correspondent David Willis: "People were screaming and some were thrown around"
Local officials say a black box flight recorder has now been found.

The Thai Airways International domestic flight from Bangkok, with 146 people on board, crashed at 7pm local time (1200 GMT) on Friday when attempting a third emergency landing in heavy rain.

[ image: Ruangsak Loichusak: Thai pop star who survived]
Ruangsak Loichusak: Thai pop star who survived
People living nearby described a loud noise as the plane tried to gain height, and then seeing a bright light followed by a fireball falling to the ground.

A flight attendant revealed to Thai television that if the third attempt to land had failed, they would have returned to Bangkok.

[ image:  ]
Television reports said that the plane's pilot had survived.

Most of the plane's passengers are believed to be Thai, although a passenger list showed there appeared to be at least 25 foreigners on board.

The survivors are thought to include five children. There are unconfirmed reports that at least one British citizen survived the crash, along with three Japanese, two Israelis, two Australians, and a German.

Thai pop singer Ruangsak Loichusak was one of the survivors and was shown on television walking from the wreckage.

[ image:  ]
The crash is the latest in a series in Asia, raising concerns about the continent's air safety, and comes six years after another Thai Airways Airbus went down in Nepal, killing 133 people.

Analysts say threats to safety increase at a time of cost-cutting as the region deals with lower passenger levels due to the economic slump.

The aircraft's manufacturers European Consortium Airbus Industrie said in a statement from its headquarters in France that it was sending five specialists to help in the crash inquiry.

But officials there refused to speculate about the cause of the crash.

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