37 Die in Thailand Plane Crash
BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) _ A plane carrying tourists to a southern resort island crashed today during heavy rains, and police said all 37 people aboard were killed.
The Bangkok Airways turboprop crashed as it was approaching the airport on Koh Samui, said Prateep Pakdeepol of the island’s police station. The island’s police chief, Pitipong Kansan, said it appeared the rains caused the plane to crash into a coconut grove.
Prateep said there were 33 passengers, including an infant, and almost all were foreign tourists. There were four crew members on the flight from Bangkok.
The passengers included 29 foreigners, said Hiroshi Enomata, first secretary of the Japanese Embassy in Bangkok. Among them were five Japanese, he said.
No information on other foreign nationals was immediately available.
The 50-minute flights from Bangkok usually are packed with foreign tourists to the beaches of the island on the Gulf of Thailand, about 300 miles south of Bangkok.
Passanee Thongsuk, a hotel receptionist on the island, said she saw the plane crash and explosion.
Passanee said she was looking at the sky for the plane because her hotel was expecting some of the tourists aboard to check in there.
″I saw the plane slowly heading down,″ she said. ″A few seconds later, I saw a big fire and smoke. I was shocked and I knew the plane had crashed. There was a loud explosion.″
″It came down between some houses near the main road,″ she said. ″The people living there were very lucky to escape.″
An aviation official in Bangkok said the Dash 8 aircraft lost contact with the control tower about 3.5 miles from the airport. The official spoke on condition of anonymity.
The Dash 8 can carry up to about three dozen passengers.