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Page last updated at 12:57 GMT, Monday, 17 September 2007 13:57 UK

Search for clues after Thai crash


Investigators probing a plane crash at a Thai tourist resort say they have found the aircraft's flight recorders.

At least 89 people were killed when the plane, operated by Thai budget airline One-Two-Go, skidded off a runway in heavy rain on the island of Phuket.

Survivors described how the plane smashed through a wall and broke up, before bursting into flames.

About 130 people, mostly foreigners, were on board the plane. An estimated 40 people escaped the burning wreckage.

The survivors are thought to include nationals from Australia, Britain, France, Iran, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands and Sweden.

Locator map and satellite image of airport

Officials are still trying to determine the names and nationalities of those who died.

Flight OG 269 had flown to Phuket on Sunday from the Thai capital, Bangkok.

Both of the plane's pilots are believed to have perished in the accident, and officials said 55 foreigners were among the dead.

The BBC's Andrew Harding, who recently arrived at the airport after it reopened, says black body bags were being taken away in emergency vehicles, having been moved from a makeshift morgue set up after the crash.

He says the main body of the jet has been cleared from the runway - the only visible signs of the crash are a few items of debris and a deep scar in the embankment where the aircraft came to rest.

Transport Minister Theera Haocharoen said it was too early to say what the causes of the disaster might have been.

"The officials have found the black boxes [flight recorders] and will send them for analysis to the United States," she said. "Hopefully, we will learn in a few weeks the cause of accident."

More than 80 bodies have been recovered.

KNOWN CRASH FATALITIES
Thailand: 36, including co-pilot
US: 4
Iran: At least 3
Australia: 1
UK: At least 1
France: 1
Sweden: 1
Indonesia: 1 (pilot)

Hospital officials said five of the survivors remained in a critical condition, with burns over 60% of their bodies.

Parinyawich Chusaeng, a local artist who survived the crash, said he saw people on fire as he escaped the wreckage.

"The people all around me were burning. Some on the floor and some standing, and they were on fire."

The task of identifying the dead is being made more difficult because the flight manifest listed names but not nationalities of the passengers, and many of the bodies were badly burned.

Some eight Britons survived the crash but the UK embassy said "several" Britons were killed.

Plane crash at Phuket

Other foreigners on board the flight included two Israeli couples on their honeymoon. Both couples are reported missing.

An Australian man who apparently survived the 2004 tsunami in Phuket is recovering in hospital.

Survivors say the pilot circled the area hoping for the weather to clear before making his final disastrous approach.

The McDonnell Douglas MD-82 aircraft was approaching the airport when the pilot asked to abort the landing, an aviation official told Thai television.

"The control tower allowed it but the aircraft fell to the runway and the body broke," he said.

One-Two-Go is one of Thailand's many budget airlines.

It was set up in December 2003 as a subsidiary of Orient Thai Airways, and flies domestic routes.

This is Thailand's deadliest aviation accident since December 1998, when 101 people were killed after a Thai Airways plane crashed on landing near another southern resort.

video and audio news
The crash site at Phuket



SEE ALSO
High cost for cheap Asian flights?
16 Sep 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Survivors flee burning wreckage
16 Sep 07 |  Asia-Pacific
In pictures: Thai air crash
16 Sep 07 |  In Pictures
Air disasters timeline
18 Jul 07 |  Special Reports

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