An estimated 10 people were hospitalized when a Bangkok Airways flight landed in rainy conditions, skidded off the runway and crashed into the air traffic control tower. The pilot was killed in the accident, which occurred at Samui airport in Thailand. Sixty-eight passengers were aboard the ATR72 twin-turboprop plane — like the one in the image to the right — along with two pilots and two crew members. Four foreign tourists – two British, two Dutch – were among the injured.
The air traffic control tower hit in the crash was not in use, according to a report by MSNBC. Nonetheless, Samui airport was closed, with at least one Thai Airways flight canceled.
UPDATE: Only seven people were hospitalized as a result of this accident, one of whom is the co-pilot. Other than the unfortunate death of the pilot (Chartchai Pansuwan), the most severe injury was broken legs.
Though the airline is not speculating on the cause of the crash, they say wind and rain may have played a part, and that the pilot had 19 years of experience. See the video below for some footage of the incident.
UPDATE 2: According to one of the passengers, Mirella Gastaldi, upon landing, the plane “was going too fast, it was not normal, it didn’t brake. It was going too fast and a bit to the side. It all happened so fast, I realized we had crashed because I had two seats on top of me.“
As those opposed to Thailand’s leading political party clashed with its supporters, the country’s travel industry sat in the background and cringed. Thailand is already one of the most popular countries, if not THE most popular, amongst tourists heading to Southeast Asia. The Tourism Authority of Thailand had plans to draw even more would-be visitors than ever this year.
It looks like it, unless the situation changes. Thai Airways, which is already in the red because of high fuel prices, claims that the number of passengers from the Asia Pacific has fallen nearly 10% in the last few days. The drop is mostly due to cancellations, many following a travel warning issued by the governments of South Korea, China and Japan.
In Phuket, the protesting directly affected flights. The airport at the popular beach destination was closed as a security measure after anti-government protests broke out nearby. The previous military coup was not violent. Tourists were actually out posing for pictures with soldiers. This time, though, chaotic riots make for a much more dangerous situation. Those who are planning a trip to the Land of Smiles won’t find many smiling faces if they get caught up in a confrontation between pro and anti-government demonstrators or between one of the sides and the military. The US State Department has yet to issue any travel warnings concerning Thailand.