Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Pilot killed in Thai plane crash

Scene at Koh Samui airport after the plane hit a disused control tower

The pilot of a Thai plane has been killed and seven passengers injured as it skidded off the runway while landing on the tourist island of Koh Samui.

The Bangkok Airways flight, carrying 72 people, hit an old and unmanned control tower amid reports of heavy rain.

The plane had taken off from the southern Thai town of Krabi, another popular tourist destination.

Officials said the injured included the co-pilot, two Britons, an Italian and a Swiss national.

The four tourists all suffered broken legs, while the co-pilot also had leg injuries, said the managing director of Bangkok Airways, Puttipong Prasartthong-Osoth.

He said the other foreign passengers included nationals of Spain, France and Germany.

Several were treated for minor bruises or shock - including two other Britons - and were resting at local hotels before being transferred to Bangkok, officials said.

Bad weather

The plane hit an old control tower

"Sadly we have learnt that the pilot of the aircraft has died," said Kannikar Kemavuthanon, the director general of the Department of Civil Aviation.

Ms Kanikka said the Bangkok Airways Flight PG266 was an ATR-72 twin-turboprop with 68 passengers, two pilots and two crew members on board.

"The weather was very bad during landing with heavy rain and wind," she said.

The plane hit a building that had once been used as an air traffic control tower, but is now part of a fire-fighting station, a local police official said.

"The heavy damage was at the front of the plane where the pilot was. It looks like he suffered from the impact," police Maj Col Sayan Sartsri told AP news agency.

A resident of the island who saw the crash told the BBC that the nose of the plane smashed into the old control tower and the left wing hit the roof of a utility building.

"The nose… looks like [it was] opened by a can opener," said Charly Notter.

The crash happened at around 1415 local time (0715 GMT).

The resort island of Koh Samui lies some 300 miles (480km) south of Bangkok.

The airport runway was closed after the accident and at least one Thai Airways flight was cancelled.

Map of plane route

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