Witnesses spoke of terrible weather just before the One-Two-Go budget airliner crashed on the holiday island of Phuket.
Witnesses saw smoke billowing from the plane
"The weather had been bad all day, but there was a very bad squall for about 15 minutes," Simon Luttrell, who owns a hotel 600m from the airport, told the BBC News website.
"There was driving rain and wind - it would have been very hard to see."
It was just after the squall, he said, that colleagues at the airport told him emergency vehicles were arriving there.
Passengers who survived the crash said it had been obvious that there was a problem.
"The plane was flying around trying to land," one Irish survivor told Thailand's ITV channel. "It was making some noises and it was bad rain."
Another man, Nong Khaonual, told Nation Television that the plane descended "very fast".
"Just before we touched the runway we felt the plane try to lift up, and it skidded off the runway," he said.
The plane burst into flames. Survivors described a scene of chaos as they struggled to escape from the burning wreckage.
"My wife was half conscious and I dragged her out of the emergency exit," Mr Nong said. "There was a man behind us and he was on fire."
Around 10 people sitting at the back of the plane escaped with him, some of whom were hurt when they jumped to the ground, he said.
Another man said he saw passengers engulfed in flames as he escaped from the plane, fearing it would explode.
Some of the survivors suffered severe burns, reports said.
The scene left passengers in nearby planes terrified.
"We could see the fire coming out of it," Parisian Marine Keisel told the French news agency AFP. "It was chaos inside my plane."
Television pictures showed the charred aircraft surrounded by fire engines and ambulances.
Officials said that many of the passengers were foreign tourists, drawn to the island's beaches and hotels.
Many of these were hard-hit by the Asian tsunami in 2004, and this crash will come as a new blow to the island of Phuket.