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Plane Crash in Bangkok…What Really Happened?

August 4, 2009

It’s sometimes difficult to report on an international incident. Stories get conflicted, newspapers have to follow leads, and they’re pressed for time to release something to the public as soon as possible. Today’s crash for of a Bangkok Airways ATR72 showed how each Japanese newspaper can create a different story.

They did agree that the accident happened earlier today about 2pm Bangkok time, 4pm Tokyo time (although exact estimates are all different). The crashed happened on the island of Samui, with 72 people on board.

Asahi Landing failure in Thailand, the pilot dies, over 40 people injured” The time was 4:10 Tokyo time. As the plane was landing at the island of Samui, it went off the runway, and crashed into a building within the airport. 42 people were injured, including 4 people who were seriously injured, and the pilot was killed.

The passengers on the plane, according to the Asahi who heard this from the airline, were 80% foreigners. After checking with the Japanese embassy, it’s been confirmed that none of the passengers were Japanese.

Nikkei “Bangkok Air landing failure in Southern Thailand” The time was 4:20 Tokyo time. The plane separated from the runway and crashed into a building that was near the control tower. One pilot was killed, another pilot was seriously injured, along with 10 passengers being seriously injured. The Nikkei ‘s estimate for passengers with serious injuries was three times as many as the Asahi.

The passengers on the plane, according to the Nikkei who gets their information from the Thai Airport and Transportation authority, were all foreigners. The Nikkei also mentioned “passengers whose name looked Japanese were not aboard.”

Yomiuri “Thai plane crashes into the control tower, killing the pilot, and seriously injuring 6” The time was 4pm Tokyo time. The Yomiuri estimated that 6 people were seriously injured, less than the Nikkei’s estimate, but more than the Asahi’s. The Asahi claimed “the plane crashed into a building in the airport,’ the Nikkei said “the plane crashed into a building near the control tower,” but the Yomiuri took this one step further by stating “the plane crashed into the control tower!”

The Yomiuri also was the only newspaper that offered reasons for the crash. “Due to low visibility during the rain storm, the plane slipped off the runway.” They also were the only newspaper to say the airport shutdown after the incident.  At least the drama of The Yomiuri’s account makes for a good story.

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