PHUKET, Thailand — A plane carrying foreign tourists crashed Sunday as it tried to land in stormy weather on the resort island of Phuket, engulfing some passengers in flames while others kicked out windows to escape the smoke-filled cabin.
At least 88 people were killed.
The budget One-Two-Go Airlines flight was carrying 123 passengers and seven crew members from the capital Bangkok to Phuket when the McDonnell Douglas MD-82 skidded off the runway in driving wind and rain, officials said.
It then ran through a low retaining wall and split in two.
Survivors described their escape amid chaos, smoke and fire.
“As soon as we hit, everything went dark and everything fell,” said Mildred Furlong, 23, a waitress from British Columbia.
The plane started filling with smoke and fires broke out, she said. A passenger in front of her caught fire, while one in the back kicked out a plane window.
An airline official said 55 of the 78 foreigners on board died. The plane’s passengers included tourists from France, Germany, Israel, Australia and Britain.
“I came out on the wing of the plane … the exit door, it was kind of crushed and I had to squeeze through. And saw my friend, he was outside. He just got out before me. And next thing, it really caught fire, then I just got badly burned, my face, my legs, my arms,” said John Gerard O’Donnell of Ireland, speaking from his hospital bed.
Parinwit Chusaeng, who was slightly burned, said some passengers were engulfed in flames.
“I stepped over them on the way out of the plane,” Parinwit told The Nation TV channel. “I was afraid that the airplane was going to explode, so I ran away.”
A coordinator at Bangkok Phuket Hospital, said some survivors told her that passengers stepped on each other as they fled the smoke-filled plane.
She said there were five people in critical condition at her hospital. Many of the injured also had broken legs and similar injuries from jumping from the aircraft, she said.
Officials said it was too early to say what caused the crash, but weather was likely a factor.
“The visibility was poor as the pilot attempted to land. He decided to make a go-around (make another landing attempt) but the plane lost balance and crashed,” said Chaisak Angsuwan, director general of the Air Transport Authority of Thailand.
“It was torn into two parts.”