BANGKOK, NOV. 21 -- A twin-engine passenger plane carrying about three dozen people from Bangkok to an offshore resort crashed today as it was attempting to land in heavy rain, apparently killing all aboard.
The plane, a de Havilland Dash 8 turboprop owned by Bangkok Airways, crashed into a coconut grove just short of the airport on Koh Samui Island, according to island police.
A police spokesman said four crew members and at least 33 passengers -- almost all foreign tourists -- were aboard. Authorities and airline officials said a flight manifest listed 30 foreigners and three Thais among the passengers but gave no breakdown of the foreigners by nationality. Japanese Embassy officials in Bangkok said at least five of the passengers were Japanese.
Passanee Thongsuk, a hotel receptionist on the island, said she was awaiting many of the passengers aboard the flight and saw the plane "slowly heading down" toward the coconut grove. "A few seconds later, I saw a big fire and smoke," Thongsuk said. "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. The people living there were very lucky to escape."
The 50-minute flights from Bangkok usually are packed with foreign tourists heading to the beaches of the island in the Gulf of Thailand, about 300 miles south of Bangkok.
The storm in which the aircraft tried to land churned up 10-foot waves off the coast of southern Thailand, sinking at least 20 vessels, according to reports by Bangkok news media.