Flight data recorder recovered in Thailand crash; 89 confirmed dead

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Monday, September 17, 2007

Location of Phuket.

The flight data recorder from One-Two-GO Airlines Flight 269 was recovered today after the MD-82 jet crashed yesterday on landing during a storm at Phuket International Airport in Thailand. At least 89 people are confirmed to have been killed in the crash, as rescue crews continued to recover bodies from the wreckage.

The cause of the crash was "probably weather related", Vutichai Singhamanee, director of the Civil Aviation Authority's flight standards bureau, was quoted as saying by Bloomberg. There was a strong wind and heavy rain at the time.

Flying from Don Mueang International Airport in Bangkok, the plane landed at Phuket at around 3:40 p.m. local time (0840 GMT), skidded off the runway, ran into some trees and an earth embankment, broke in two and burst into flames.

The plane was carrying 130 people – 123 passengers, two pilots and five crew members. At least 79 of the people aboard were foreigners. Phuket is an island on the Andaman Sea, on the west coast of southern Thailand and is a popular destination for tourists. Survivors from Australia, Austria, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Sweden, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom were being treated at local hospitals, The Nation reported.

The flight data recorder, or "black box", is to be sent to the United States for analysis. The US National Transportation Safety Board is assisting with the investigation in Thailand, which is routine for the NTSB because the crash involves a US-made aircraft.

Phuket International Airport was closed for the remainder of yesterday and most of today while the recovery of the wreckage continued.

The crash is the first major incident for Thailand's fledgling low-cost aviation sector, and the first fatal commercial aviation incident in Thailand since the crash of Thai Airways Flight 261 in 1998 in Surat Thani.

Founded in 2003, One-Two-GO is the domestic, low-cost subsidiary of Orient Thai Airlines, a small Thailand-based carrier that does mostly charter flights with a fleet of older Boeing 747s. The MD-82 involved in yesterday's crash is thought to be at least 24 years old.


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