Tragedy in Phuket
Airline official blames wind shear for plane crash
Phuket (AP) - Half of the systems to detect potentially dangerous
wind shear were not working at the time of a crash at a Phuket airport that
killed 89 people on board and injured more than 40 others, officials said
The budget One-Two-Go Airlines flight OG269 was carrying 123 passengers and
seven crew from Bangkok to Phuket when it skidded off a runway Sunday while
landing in driving wind and rain, catching fire and engulfing some
passengers in flames as others kicked out windows to escape.
“I think he realized the runway was too close or he was too fast or the wind
had hit him,” Borland, a survivor who now lives in Australia, told The
Associated Press. “He accelerated and tried to pull out. I thought he is
going around again and the next thought was everything went black and there
was a big mess and we hit the ground.”
Borland, 48, said his pants caught fire and he managed to drag himself to an
exit where he was pulled by another survivor from the plane to safety.
“People were screaming. There was a fire in the cabin and my clothes caught
fire,” he said.
Investigators have said wind shear - a sudden change in either wind speed or
direction in an aircraft’s flight path that can destabilize a plane - was
among the possible causes of the crash.
“Three out of six low-level wind shear alert systems were not working at the
time,” said Vuttichai Singhamanee, director of flight standard bureau of
Transport Ministry’s Aviation Authority Department.
Vuttichai said the solar-powered systems - which were out of power at the
time of the crash - could have made it difficult for pilot Arief Mulyadi to
judge whether it was safe to land. Mulyadi, who died in the crash, had come
under fire from some Transport Ministry officials for landing, despite
warnings from the flight tower about treacherous wind shear at the airport.
While it is too early to definitively say what caused the crash, Kajit
Habnanonda, president of Orient-Thai Airlines, which owns One-Two-Go, also
pointed to wind shear as a possible factor.
Kajit also defended the pilot Tuesday as having “plenty of aviation
experience under his belt.”
“The pilot who flew the doomed aircraft was one of our best. He was very
experienced, patient and very decisive,” Kajit told The Bangkok Post
“There was no way of knowing in advance what sort of obstacles lay ahead for
any pilot,” he said.
“The black boxes are still here and have yet to be sent to the United States
for experts to examine,” he was quoted as saying. The two black boxes were
retrieved from the wreckage Monday.
The 89 dead came from at least 10 countries, including the United States,
Australia, Britain, France, Germany, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Sweden and
Thailand. Official tallies of the dead showed Thailand had the most victims
with 36, followed by Iran with 18. Six Israelis, six British, six French,
five Americans and four Irish nationals were also among the dead, according
to embassy reports and a document obtained by The Associated Press from Thai
About 70 bodies have been identified, authorities said.
Most of the Thai bodies and that of the Indonesian pilot have been retrieved
by grieving relatives and some have been flown by commercial flights to
Bangkok, according to Maj. Gen. Santhan Chayanon, deputy police commander of
the region, which includes Phuket.
Pickup trucks transported caskets to waiting flights.
In a cavernous cargo hold where the remaining dead are being stored in
refrigerated containers, the mood was somber. Photos of charred bodies -
including those of children - were hung on the wall for identification.
Burnt luggage was stacked in one corner and the smell of smoke lingered in
Crying relatives of one Israeli couple - believed to have been on their
honeymoon - had come for news of their fate. It was unclear if they were
among the dead.
But in a rare positive development, Israeli officials agreed to work with
their bitter enemies from Iran to help identify victims.
“In situations like this, you forget the divisions,” said Yaki Oved, the
head of Israeli police in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, who shook hands
with Safdar Shafiee of the Iranian Embassy in Bangkok. “The main thing is to
help. You don’t think about the politics.”
Forty-one passengers survived the crash. Six critically injured patients -
including two Irish, two Israeli, a British and Thai national - were
scheduled to be airlifted Tuesday by C-130 transport to hospitals in
Dalad Tantiprasongchai, a business development manager with Orient-Thai
Airlines, said the airliner would be providing 100,000 baht initially to
families of the dead for the funeral and other costs.
“We are deeply sorry about all the losses,” Dalad said, reading from a
prepared statement. “We are doing our best to investigate and are working to
help the remaining survivors and families and relatives to get through this
as quickly as they can.”
Early Tuesday, monks, Muslim imams and a Catholic priest gathered near the
twisted remains of the plane to honor the dead amid the roar of planes
taking off. About a dozen monks - dressed in orange robes - chanted prayers
near a pile of plane wreckage covered with netting. They then strung a white
robe from the debris to a building where the bodies were being housed - to
help the souls find their way to the next life.
No survivors or relatives of the dead attended the 15-minute ceremony.
“In this case, many foreigners have passed away from this accident,” said
Peter Bancha, a Catholic priest living in Phuket. “We have to come and pray
for their soul, may God receive their soul and we hope that they will find
Passengers and officials said the accident occurred when the pilot,
maneuvering in heavy tropical rain and wind, tried to abort his landing and
pull up for a second attempt.
The aircraft lurched up, then down, hitting the tarmac hard. The passengers
recounted how the plane skidded off the runway, breaking up and catching
fire as it plowed through a short retaining wall. Survivors recounted
horrifying scenes of passengers on fire and others struggling to escape a
cabin quickly filling with smoke.
It was Thailand’s deadliest aviation accident since Dec. 11, 1998, when 101
people were killed when a Thai Airways plane crashed while trying to land in
heavy rain at Surat Thani, 530 kilometers (330 miles) south of Bangkok.
Forty-five people survived.
Cruise ship pier project
Council says luxury boat landing would cause congestion
Pattaya’s city council says
that Bali Hai pier is too congested to be considered
for a cruise ship landing.
The future of the South Pattaya Pier project, intended for cruise ships, now
looks doubtful with Pattaya City Council saying that such a structure would
be too large for the locality and would cause congestion problems.
Councilors have said that other possible locations should be studied in
preference and that if Pattaya were still the most desirable location,
changes would need to be made to the design.
The Department of Water Transportation and Maritime Trade hired Golden Plan
Co Ltd, C Spectrum Co Ltd and STS Engineering Consultant Co Ltd to study and
survey the appropriate economic, engineering and environmental variables to
design and construct a pier in the Thai Gulf and on the Andaman Sea.
The latest results were a summary choosing South Pattaya for constructing
the project, and on September 12 the case was submitted to the city council
at Pattaya City Hall.
Somchai Sumanatkachornkul, head of civil engineering at the Bureau of Water
Transportation and Maritime Trade said that the Andaman Sea has lots of
coastal tourism resources and islands that attract a large amount of marine
tourism. Currently, tourists traveling on cruises have problems anchoring
there. Most anchor off the coast and islets, which don’t have immigration
The proposal for the Gulf was to build a pier in South Pattaya, near Bali
Hai Pier, where cruise ships could anchor. This was considered the most
appropriate location in Chonburi.
The majority of city councilors, however, disagreed with the proposal, even
though it could be beneficial for Pattaya. They said congestion would be a
problem and that Bali Hai Pier is already a major facility to maintain and
administrate. The consultants were asked to study other potential locations
and also to try and modify the plans before resubmitting them to the next
Governors gather to hear
progress on e-government
The latest technology was on
display as over 200 provincial governors and chief executive officers met
for an e-government conference.
The Ministry of Information and Communications Technology urged faster
implementation of information technology in the continuing policy towards
e-government during a seminar attended by more than 200 provincial governors
and chief executive officers held at the Palm Beach Hotel and Resort.
Mrs Maneerat Plipat, deputy permanent secretary at the ministry said that a
roadmap of the direction and development of e-government had been created,
and that it was important that the milestones on the map were achieved.
The development of the data communication network to link government
ministries, departments, bureaus, corporations, and 274 independent public
agencies would be in use by the end of this year, she said, and the network
would then be extended into the regions.
Maneerat said that eight key services would be completed this month,
including areas covered by the Royal Thai Police and the Highway Police
Sub-division, Department of Health activities that relate to secondary
schools, and Social Security Office payments.
Royal Navy takes part
in beach guard training
Pattaya City has been working in conjunction with the Royal Thai Navy to
train beach guards for the seas around Pattaya and on Koh Larn.
Mayor Ronakit Ekasingh.
On September 6 at the Asia Hotel in Pattaya, Deputy Mayor Ronakit Ekasingh
chaired the opening of the Beach Guard Group 1 training course, along with
director of the Civil Affairs Division of the First Naval Area Command
Captain Atorn Kluabmas.
Taking part were 110 personnel drawn from the municipal police, the public
hazard protection department, and Pattaya City officers.
Ronakit said the training was to thoroughly prepare for readiness in sea
rescue and in first aid.
The Royal Thai Navy sent Coast Guard officers from Aphakornkiatiwong
Hospital, Sattahip Naval Base, and the Navy’s Special Warfare Group to
conduct the training, which was held over a nine-day period from September 6
to 14. Covering three days of theory and six days of practice, the training
was held at the Asia Hotel beach.
Ronakit said that 24-hour ocean rescue services are controlled through the
joint center at Bali Hai Pier, and personnel are scrambled via radio
Car and boat ‘condo’ would
be a first for Thailand
Hi-tech lifting and stacking equipment to be used
Thailand’s first car-boat “condominium” project, only the sixth project of
its kind in the world, is ready to go ahead in Pattaya under a budget of 735
Charoenruangsap, head of the planning and budgeting department.
The Office of the Budget has approved the project, a multi-story parking lot
for cars and boats that would enhance Pattaya’s status as a marine leisure
center in addition to providing urgently needed car-parking space in South
The announcement was made on September 6 at a Pattaya City Hall meeting to
discuss expenditures for 2007. Chairman of the budget committee Suwit
Nongyai presided over the meeting, which was attended by city councilors,
the director of the financial division, and the head of the planning and
Suwit said the requested budget for the car and boat parking lot project had
originally been 760 million baht, but that the Office of the Budget had
instead approved 735 million baht under the 2008 budget.
Suthisak Charoenruangsap, head of the planning and budgeting department,
said the project would use lifts and automatic rails for parking the cars
and boats. The building would be constructed in a condominium pattern. The
site is next to Pattaya School No 8, and a quay would be built at Bali Hai
This style of combined car and boat parking has been carried out elsewhere
in the world, but in only five other locations. Detailed planning approvals
now need to be obtained, after which the project would begin next year and
be completed in 2010.
Police will once again use
speedboat patrols for tourist safety
Pattaya Tourist Police will once again be using a speedboat to patrol the
coastline after it had been mothballed seven years ago due to costly
Tourist Police have dusted off their speedboat to support their efforts in
the coming high season.
A meeting of the Pattaya Business and Tourism Association at the Sunshine
Garden Resort on September 12 to discuss the safety measures needed to
protect the lives and property of tourists during the high season was told
that police believe the patrol speedboat would be an effective measure.
The meeting, chaired by PBTA president Jamroon Witsawachaiyapan, was
addressed by Pol Lt Col Sirichai Kruprasertwattana, deputy superintendent at
Pattaya Police Station who described the protection measures that are being
The new radio center that will be used by Pattaya and Banglamung police
stations and which is being built under a 1 million baht budget from city
hall will be completed at the end of this month. The radio center is located
at the Control Center Room at Pattaya City Hall, where it will work in
conjunction with the CCTV system and Call Center 1337. This, said Pol Lt Col
Sirichai, will allow very fast response to incidents.
November will see the military patrolling alongside the police once again
for greater protection of residents and visitors, in line with the security
policy promulgated earlier by the governor of Chonburi.
Pattaya Tourist Police inspector Pol Lt Col Suwan Un-Anan said the patrol
speedboat will be brought back after permission is obtained from the Tourist
Police Division. This boat, which has not been used for more than seven
years, will patrol Pattaya and Jomtien beaches. The boat would be ready in
about two months’ time, said Pol Lt Col Suwan.
Other security measures include three CCTV wireless cameras that are being
installed by private organizations on Walking Street.
Pattaya boats must install GIS by the end of 2008
City hall wants all local
boats to install Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to assist rescue
efforts should something go wrong out at sea.
City Hall has announced that more than 180 million baht has been allocated
for the installation of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in more than
1000 passenger and speedboats operating in and around Pattaya.
Deputy Mayor Ronakit Ekasingh said that at present it is very difficult for
the authorities to keep track of the comings and goings of every sea vessel
plying the waters off Pattaya.
He said that boats transporting tourists on holiday trips to the outer
islands regularly encounter difficulties out in the open sea, such as
running out of gasoline or taking in water and sinking.
Presently the sea rescue unit would not have their coordinates, so it would
take a long time to locate the vessels, which at times could be too late
resulting in loss of life and property. “We have had to ask the Royal Thai
Navy many a time to assist in search and rescue operations,” he said.
He went on to say that, “in the worse case scenario, if a boat sank, the GIS
would help locate the wreckage to make it easier to conduct salvage
operations. “Therefore it was decided to implement the GIS system whereby
every boat would have their own tracking code and signals would be sent to
control centers via satellite.”
Ronakit said that there would be two control towers, not unlike the ones at
airports, but these would be for the purposes of keeping track of sea
traffic. The two centers will be set up at the Sea Rescue Post in South
Pattaya and at Samae Beach on Koh Larn. Specialists would be hired to man
the stations, which will be on watch 24 hours a day. The stations would be
able to monitor all boat traffic in Thai territorial waters.
The deputy mayor said he expects the system to be operational by the end of
Junkies stab drug dealer to death
A gang of drug users stabbed and killed a drugs dealer during a bungled
robbery attempt during the morning of September 12.
Kamwimol and Jitakorn Kamnoi were arrested in connection with the murder of
a drug dealer.
Police along with the physician on duty at Banglamung Police Station and
rescue workers from the Sawang Boriboon Foundation went to the scene in
front of a house on Soi Banyailao in South Pattaya after receiving a report
that a man had been stabbed to death.
About 100 meters into the soi, the officers found a pink Yamaha Mio
motorcycle lying on its side in the middle of the road. Nearby was the dead
body of Sompit Nelma, 30, a resident of Trat, lying on its back in a pool of
blood. The deceased had a deep stab wound to the left chest approximately 10
cm long. The wound had cut the top of the heart.
A 15-year-old youth given the alias of Boy, who occupied a rented room near
the scene, stated that he knew the deceased very well. He had watched him
ride on his motorcycle out of the soi, and then saw him return in a hurry,
followed closely by a blue Honda Wave 125. When the bikes stopped, one of
the followers had put the deceased in a headlock, and another one stabbed
him once before they fled.
During the afternoon of the same day, at about 4 p.m., police arrested two
men at Soi Wat Samakkeetham, near the junction with Sukhumvit Road. They
were identified as Charoenporn Kamwimol, age 19, and Jitakorn Kamnoi, 22.
They had amongst their possessions one sharp knife and three ya ba pills.
Pol Col Suthin Sappuang, superintendent at Pattaya Police Station, said that
Charoenporn had confessed to stabbing Sompit. He had plotted a robbery with
three other people, namely Jitakorn, a man known only as Tiew, and Kamthon
Suobsai, also known as Rang Huajok, who had escaped. They had asked Sompit
to deliver five ya ba pills to them, with the intention of robbing him of
the drugs. When Sompit arrived as arranged, the group had seized him and
threatened him with a knife.
Sompit, however, fought back, and fled on his motorbike. Two of them
followed him back into the soi, where they caught him and Charoenporn
stabbed him to death. The murder weapon was thrown into Soi Polaris in South
Pattaya. Police are now in pursuit of the remaining two members of the gang.
Russian attacked and robbed on Beach Road
A Russian tourist was attacked and robbed on the night of September 13 at 2
a.m. right outside Soi 10 on Beach Road.
injured and dejected Vorowov makes his report to the Pattaya police.
Vorowov Vresimir told police he was taking a leisurely stroll on Beach Road
on his way back home after a night out around the beer bars of Central Road.
As he was passing the 7-11 store near Soi 10, he stopped in front of the
shop contemplating whether he should go in to buy a few necessities, when
‘one or possibly two’ Thai men sprung upon him and attacked him before
grabbing his gold necklace and running off into the night.
Police investigations proved that there were no witnesses willing to talk
about the crime, so they took Vorowov for treatment of his injuries at a
Vorowov pleaded with the police to find the culprits and bring him back his
necklace because there was a holy crucifix attached to the chain, which was
valuable and holy to him.
Police assured him that they would carry out their investigations in earnest
to bring the criminals to justice and locate the stolen gold chain and
return it to Mr. Vorowov.
Upholstery shop owner caught using clients’ cars to deliver ya-ba pills
Police acting on a tip-off lay in wait for the transfer of ya-ba pills to
clients, nabbing the deliveryman in the process.
The drama was played out on the night of September 11, at 03.20 hrs when
unbeknown to the drug dealer, police organized a sting operation to see him
in action and catch him red handed.
Suthon Kongchamroon, 40, drove a blue Honda to an area near a housing estate
on 3rd Road where he parked the car. As he stepped out of the car, police
noticed that he was holding something in his right hand.
Police officers leaped out of their hiding places and ask to inspect the
object that the man was holding, which turned out to be 50 amphetamine
(ya-ba) pills stuffed into a drinking straw fastened at the ends with black
tape. The man was apprehended immediately.
Suthon told police that he was hired by a man who supplied him with the
pills. He would contact the buyers by telephone giving them instructions of
where the drop off point would be.
The ‘straw’ filled with 50 pills sold for 11,000 baht. Suthon would receive
1000 baht per job. He also confessed that the cars he used were not his, but
that they belonged to his clients who had left them at his shop for
Police held Suthon on charges of possessing ‘category 1’ drug with intent to
sell. The car was also impounded as evidence.
Korean charged with groping pub singer’s breasts
A Korean man has been charged with molestation following accusations by a
pub singer that he drunkenly groped her breasts.
Police were called out at 1:30 a.m. on September 6 to a pub in Naklua where
an indignant Miss Monteechata Pankaew, 32, a singer at the establishment,
was waiting for them at the entrance with a number of her friends and other
Monteechata said that while she was singing on stage a group of Koreans came
in for a birthday celebration. They called her to come down and join in
singing a birthday song with them. She did so, but as she was finishing the
Korean man whose birthday it was, and who was in a state of drunkenness,
hugged her round the waist and grabbed her breasts.
The Korean, who was still inside the pub drinking, was called out and
interviewed. He was identified as Limjun Yang, age 32. Yang denied touching
her breasts and said he only touched her on the shoulders. Monteechata,
however, said she had enough eyewitnesses and declared she wanted to
continue the case to the end.
Yang has therefore been charged with molestation, although he still
vigorously protests his innocence.
Tourist Police will crack down on scams during high season
Zero-dollar tours are especially vulnerable
The commander-in-chief of the Tourist Police has warned Pattaya businesses
not to cheat tourists during the coming high season, saying that the safety
of visitors and the image of the city are more important than making a quick
and dishonest baht.
Maj Gen Choochat Suwannakom.
Although his comments were directed at all businesses, the commander in
particular referred to the lower quality tours, often dubbed the
Pol Maj Gen Choochat Suwannakom was speaking at a seminar related to
providing honest goods and services to visitors and organized by the Tourist
Police Division in Jomtien on September 11.
He said that the main duty of the Tourist Police is to prevent problems
arising for tourists, but that the help of entrepreneurs is also needed in
this. A memorandum of agreement was signed with local business people in
2005, but nothing much came of it. The zero-dollar tours in particular were
still very much at risk.
Pol Maj Gen Choochat said that the Tourist Police were seeking the
cooperation of eight business groups in not cheating the lower-quality
tours, namely the gem and jewelry traders, tour companies, Buddha amulet and
image merchants, herbal medicine suppliers, leather goods sellers, Thai
traditional massage establishments, entertainment venues and transportation
operators. These are being targeted in Bangkok, Ayutthaya and Kanchanaburi,
as well as in Chonburi Province.
To sell goods or services at higher than the normal cost, and to operate
schemes whereby tourists are offered free or cheap services but commissions
are piled on top of purchases are the kind of scams that the Tourist Police
will crack down upon, said the commander.
“Mostly this happens with tourists from China. From now on during the high
season the Tourist Police will be extra vigilant and will be ready to make
arrests. People should think of national profits rather than personal
Ancient Buddhist amulets to be displayed at expo
Proceeds will go to needy students
Amulet collectors from all corners of the country will attend the Buddha
Amulet Exhibition that will take place in Pattaya during October 27 and 28.
sample of an amulet that will be on display at the exhibition in October.
To be held at the Town In Town Hotel, the exhibition will include Buddha
images and ancient instructor coins in addition to amulets, some of which
will be more than 1,000 years old.
Namchaichana Deewi, chairman of Eastern Region Zone 1 of the Thai Amulet
Collectors’ Association, who heads the organizing committee for the event,
said this year will be the seventh for the exhibition, and the third
consecutive year for which Pattaya City has been co-organizer and host.
The reason for choosing Pattaya as the venue, said Namchaichana, was because
a clay Buddha was found in Panatnikom District that dated back to the
Dhavaravati Kingdom more than 1,000 years ago. Also, a very old Buddha image
was found in a cave in the Cha-Ang Mountains in Borthong District. Chonburi
therefore is considered an important area of Buddhist belief in ancient
times, and Pattaya City today has a high reputation for organizing events
and attracting visitors.
Income from the event will be distributed to the needy, with 100,000 baht
going to underprivileged students from Pattaya School No 2 and another
100,000 baht to the Pattaya Redemptorist School for Blind Children.
Additionally, 30,000 baht will be distributed to Nongprue Municipality for
donation to local schools.
Namchaichana said that more than 1,600 Buddha amulets would appear at the
exhibition, including amulets from the Chaingsaen era more than 1,000 years
ago, the Sukhothai period more than 800 years ago, and from Kampangphet,
also more than 800 years old. The instructor coins on display were believed
to create a charm through magical incantation.
There will be a competition, with a welcome party for the judges being held
at Pattaya School No 2, and the opportunity for the public to buy amulets.
Schoolchildren attend religious studies tour
Mrs. Pranom Gorpan (foreground
left) exchanges presents with Amrik Singh Kalra, president of the Thai Sikh
Community in Pattaya, as the schoolchildren gather in the background.
Eighty-two youngsters from six schools throughout Pattaya went on a study
tour of four religions on September 11 and 12, visiting Yanasangwararam
Temple, the Sikh Temple in South Pattaya, Darul Ibadah Mosque, and St
Nikolas Church to see how people of different religions celebrated their
Yanasangwararam Temple, considered one of Thailand’s greatest Buddhist
temples, was the starting point for the group, who then went on during the
afternoon to the Sikh Temple, where they were welcomed by Amrik Singh Kalra,
head of the Thai Sikh Community in Pattaya. On the second day the students
visited Darul Ibadah Mosque and St Nikolas Church.
Mrs Pranom Gorpan of the Chonburi Cultural Office said that this was the
second time a group of secondary school youngsters had taken part in a
religious study tour, and that the group itself had included students from
the four religions.
The six schools were Satit Udomsuksa School, Pattaya School No 5, Banglamung
School, Ban Nernplabwan, Srisuvit School and Ban Rodfai School.
people visit Navy Base
Eighty-five hilltribe people
from Mae Hong Son take an educational visit to the Royal Thai Navy Learning
Eighty-five hilltribe people from Mae Hong Son in the North of Thailand went
on an educational visit to the Royal Thai Navy Learning Center on September
5 to learn about the new theory of self-sufficiency in agriculture
promulgated by His Majesty the King.
Jomchan Sanoi, chief administrator of the Napoopom Sub-district
Organization, Pangmapa, in Mae Hong Son headed the delegation of village
chiefs and headmen who were from the Shan and Lahu Nyi peoples.
Capt Wirat Somchit, deputy commander of the New Recruit Training Center at
the Naval Education Department welcomed the visitors.
Jomchan said the Napoopom Sub-district Administrative Organization is
responsible for the mountainous areas where many hilltribes, including the
Shan and Lahu Nyi live. Most of them are agriculturists. They wish to follow
His Majesty’s new theories on self-sufficiency and put the concept into
action in their daily working lives, as they believe this would help them
better manage natural resources.
The Royal Thai Navy has been actively working on practical aspects of the
theory, using Navy personnel to develop a number of projects.