On December 11, 1998, Thai Airways jet Flight 261 crashed on its third attempt to land at Surat Thani airport 380 miles southwest of Bangkok. The plane, en route from Bangkok, burst into flames upon impact in a flooded rubber plantation 765 yards from the airport. Rescue efforts were hampered by the waist-high water and heavy rain. Of the 146 people aboard Airbus A310-200 (passengers and crew) 101 died, many charred beyond recognition.
As of January 11, 1999, investigators had not come to any firm conclusion as to the cause of the crash. Many factors combined to make landing difficult at the airport that night including heavy rain, the lack of an Instrument Landing System (which aids pilots landing in bad weather) and a runway with only half of its lights working.
Some of the 45 survivors blamed the pilot for trying to land repeatedly in bad weather instead of diverting to another airport or returning to Bangkok.-APW
The cockpit's voice recorder, although barely audible, revealed the pilot saying that he could not see the runway during the first two attempts to land. Following the incident, the Thai Aviation Department allocated money to install new landing systems at 16 of Thailand's 23 provincial airports and to repair the runway lights at the Surat Thani firstname.lastname@example.org