BANGKOK – A plane skidded off the runway and crashed into an air traffic control tower after landing on the Thai resort island of Samui on Tuesday, killing the pilot and injuring 34 people on board, an official said.
The co-pilot and six others were severely injured after the Bangkok Airways flight landed in stormy weather and hit the airport's old tower, said Kanikka Kemawutanond, director-general of the Department of Civil Aviation.
"The heavy damage was at the front of the plane where the pilot was. It looks like he suffered from the impact," police Maj. Col. Sayan Sartsri said.
"The co-pilot is still stuck and we are still trying to evacuate him from the plane," Kannikka said. All others aboard were evacuated and the injured sent to five hospitals in Samui, she said. Except for the seven, the others sustained minor injuries.
The nationalities of those on board were not immediately known.
Samui, located 298 miles (480 kilometers) south of Bangkok, is an island in the Gulf of Thailand popular with foreign tourists.
Kanikka said the ATR72-500 twin-turboprop had 68 passengers, two pilots and two crew members on board and was flying from Krabi, another popular resort area in southern Thailand.
"Initial reports indicated that the weather was bad with heavy rain and wind. We do not know what the pilot did or did not do that led to the incident at this point and I would rather not speculate," she said.
Kanikka said the Samui airport runway was closed after the accident and at least one Thai Airways flight was canceled.
In 1990, a Bangkok Airways turboprop crashed into a coconut grove short of the airport during heavy rain, killing all 37 people on board.
The French-Italian manufactured ATR72 has been involved in a number of incidents in recent years.
One in South Korea skidded off the runway while landing at the resort island of Jeju in 2006, injuring six people. Two years earlier, an ATR72 of Thai Airways had to make an emergency evacuation of passengers when its front landing gear collapsed during a landing in northern Thailand.
A Cambodian airliner slipped off a runway and got stuck in the mud near the ancient temples of Angkor in 2001. And in 1994, a Chicago-bound American Eagle ATR-72 crashed in northern Indiana, killing all 68 people aboard.