Passengers aboard an ATR inter-island flight that crashed on landing at Samui airport have escaped with their lives, however the captain perished and several have been critically injured when the Bangkok Airways flight crashed into a disused control tower when landing in bad weather.
The plane, which had 68 passengers aboard and was arriving from Krabi, crashed on landing at 2.30pm Tuesday, forcing the closure of the airport and creating travel delays to travellers arriving on or leaving the island.
Chartchai Pansuwan, 58, was the only person to die in the accident. He was described as an experienced pilot with 14 years experience flying this particular model of aircraft.
“During the landing there was a strong wind. What happened is similar to the crash of the One-Two-Go plane in Phuket,” commented an official who asked to remain anonymous.
The injured include an Italian and Swiss national and two Britons. The airline has revealed that the plane is covered by a US$250 million insurance with Bangkok Insurance Co.
The crash follows a more serious accident in September 2007 when a One-2-Go aircraft, operated by Orient Thai, crashed in Phuket while attempting to land in bad weather, killing 88 passengers. The airline was subsequently grounded for more than a year pending safety examinations. Bangkok Airways has a virtual monopoly on flights into the island, and a similar fate for this airline will seriously affect the air traffic to Samui.
Bangkok Airways has created an emergency information number – 02 265 8777.