( Reuters ) - Sixty-one people were killed and 40 were missing after a budget airliner crashed on the Thai resort of Phuket in driving rain on Sunday and burst into flames, the island's governor said.
Around half of the passengers were foreigners, most of them European, an Airports of Thailand official in Bangkok told Reuters, and 29 people were known to have survived, including eight Britons, seven Thais and two Australians.
Chaisak Chai-arkad, a senior airport official in Bangkok, told Thai radio the McDonnell Douglas MD-82 plane had broken in two on impact on landing on the Andaman Sea paradise isle, which was hit by the December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.
"The first part of the plane is dug into the ground. The tail section is stuck on the runway," Chaisak said.
TV images showed the crumpled and smoking fuselage of the One-Two-Go flight from Bangkok surrounded by fire trucks and emergency workers. Part of the plane could be seen in trees alongside the runway.
Nong Khaonual, a Thai who survived the crash with his wife, said he believed the plane had descended too quickly.
"The airplane was landing in heavy rain. It landed too fast. I have never seen anything like this. It descended very fast," he told Nation Television in hospital.
"Just before we touched the runway we felt the plane try to lift up, and it skidded off the runway," he said.
"My wife was half conscious and I dragged her out of the emergency exit. There was a man behind us and he was on fire."
Another survivor, an Irishman named John, said it was clear there was a problem before the attempt to land.
"You could tell there was a problem. The plane was flying around trying to land. It was making some noises and it was bad rain," John, who was traveling with a friend who also survived, told Thailand's ITV television channel.
"The plane was on fire, but I managed to get through. I might have come out on the wing," he said.