'Engine failure' caused fatal plane crash

'Engine failure' caused fatal plane crash

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon yesterday attributed the fatal army plane crash in the border province of Mae Hong Son on Thursday to engine failure.

The crash claimed the lives of three lieutenants -- Varoj Plaengkrathok, Naruepol Pookthong and Khemmaraj Duangkaew -- and injured Sgt Maj 1st Class Chachanan Khuenkaew, who is being treated at Srisangwan Hospital in Muang district.

The plane was on patrol close to the Myanmar border.

Gen Prawit said the plane suffered an engine malfunction, adding that the pilots unsuccessfully tried to make an emergency landing.

The Royal Thai Army is giving moral support to the dead officers' colleagues and families, said Gen Prawit, who is also defence minister.

Col Sirichan Ngathong, deputy army spokeswoman, said the three lieutenants will be posthumously promoted to major-general, subject to royal approval.

Their families will receive additional financial assistance of 1.6 million to 1.9 million baht from the army as well as their stipulated benefits, she added.

Lt Varoj was the pilot and Lt Naruepol his co-pilot on the Cessna-182 aircraft that crashed in rugged hill country 30 kilometres north of Mae Hong Son airport.

Lt Khemmaraj was an executive officer of the Rifle Company in the 4th Infantry Battalion. Sgt Maj 1st class Chachanan is attached to 1743 Rifle Company.

The funerals for Lt Varoj and Lt Naruepol were conducted in Lop Buri yesterday while that of Lt Khemmaraj was held in Chiang Rai's Muang district.

The plane left Mae Hong Son airport at 11.05am on Thursday to support a patrol in the area.

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