(photo credit: AP)
At least 88 people died and another 42 were injured in an airplane crash in Thailand that may have had up to 10 Israelis on board.
Two Israeli tourists were injured and hospitalized in the Thai resort island of Phuket, according to a Chabad rabbi who located them shortly after the crash. According to the Foreign Ministry, another eight Israelis are reported to be missing.
The eight included two newlywed couples who came to Thailand for their honeymoon: Adi Na'im and Rotem Naori from Netanya, who were married only two weeks ago, and Tzahi and Hufit Biton from Kfar Yona, who have been married for five months.
Dalad Tantiprasongchai, a business development manager with Orient-Thai Airlines, said the airliner would be providing 100,000 baht ($3,125) initially to families of the dead for the funeral and other costs.
"We are deeply sorry about all the losses that have happened," Dalad said, reading from a prepared statement. "We are doing our best to investigate and are working help the remaining survivors and families and relatives to get through this as quickly as they can."
A Thailand Airports spokesman reported that 78 of the 123 passengers on board the One-Two-Go Airlines flight were foreigners, including French, German, Israeli, Australian and British nationals.
Officials said the McDonnell Douglas MD-82 was attempting to land in driving wind and rain but skidded off the runaway and broke into two parts. Survivors said they escaped from emergency exits as the plane caught fire.
Survivors described their escape amid chaos, smoke and fire.
Many of the passengers had been planning to vacation at Phuket, an island popular with Thai and foreign tourists for its pristine beaches. It suffered another tragedy in December 2004, when it was among the areas hit hardest by the Indian Ocean tsunami, which left more than 8,000 dead in Thailand.
The accident is likely to raise fresh questions about the safety of budget airlines in Southeast Asia, which have burgeoned in the past few years. None of Thailand's budget airlines, including One-Two-Go, had previously suffered a major accident, but there have been several calamitous crashes in Indonesia.
Many budget airlines use older planes that are leased or purchased after years of use by other airlines.