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Page last updated at 17:06 GMT, Tuesday, 18 September 2007 18:06 UK

Thai airport wind alert 'faulty'

Rescue workers carry the coffin of one of the victims of the crash, 17/09/07
Rescuers have recovered all of the bodies of the crash victims

Systems to check for a dangerous weather condition were faulty at the time of Sunday's devastating air crash at Phuket airport, Thai officials say.

Some of the airport's wind shear alert systems were not working properly, said aviation official Vutichai Singhamany.

Investigators have said wind shear - a sudden change in either wind speed or direction - was among the possible causes of the crash.

Officials in Phuket are still working to identify the victims of the crash.

At least 89 people were killed when the plane, operated by budget airline One-Two-Go, skidded off the runway.

Many foreigners were on the flight.

Eighteen Iranians are known to have died, and Britain's Foreign Secretary David Miliband has confirmed that eight Britons were also killed.

The French foreign ministry has said that four French victims have been formally identified.

A specialist team from the French police will leave for Thailand on Wednesday to identify a further five victims believed to be French citizens.

KNOWN CRASH FATALITIES
US: At least 4
Iran: 18 confirmed
Australia: 1
UK: 8
France: 4 confirmed
Sweden: 1
Indonesia: 1 (pilot)
Germany: 1

Full casualty figures from other nations have yet to be confirmed.

The plane's flight recorders have been recovered. An investigation is under way into the cause of the crash.

There are reports that the pilot was warned of dramatic wind shear at the airport before he tried to land.

But Mr Vuttichai said that problems with the alert systems could have made it difficult for the pilot to judge whether it was safe to land.

Burning wreckage

Of the 130 people on board, only 41 are known to have escaped the burning wreckage.

All of the victims' bodies have now been removed from the aircraft and officials are trying to determine their names and nationalities.

Plane crash at Phuket
The plane appeared to slide off the runway

The police chief overseeing the site, Maj Gen Santhan Chayanon, said 57 foreigners were believed to be among the dead.

"All 32 Thai victims have been identified and of the foreigners, 21 have been identified and autopsies have been carried out on the other 36, and we are waiting for relatives to help identify them," he told AFP news agency.

Survivors of the crash are recovering in hospitals on the holiday island.

They have described how the plane, a McDonnell Douglas MD-82 travelling from Bangkok, skidded off the runway and smashed into an embankment.

The aircraft broke up and burst into flame. Many survivors spoke of seeing other passengers on fire as they struggled to escape through emergency exits.

"There was fire in the cabin, my clothes caught fire, my trousers," said Australian Robert Borland.

"I was able to drag myself across to the other side, which is where the exit row was. A person was able to assist me, drag me out of the aircraft."

Weather blamed

Aviation officials have said that the pilot received permission to abort the landing - in heavy rain and high winds - just before he crashed.

Another official told Reuters news agency said that two aircraft which landed before the One-Two-Go flight had reported serious wind shear - something which the pilot would have overheard.

But on Monday Transport Minister Theera Haocharoen said it was too early to determine what had happened.

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

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
A British crash survivor tells his story




SEE ALSO
Search for clues after Thai crash
17 Sep 07 |  Asia-Pacific
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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