Eight Britons killed in Thai plane crash

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The Independent Online

Eight British nationals are believed to have died in the Thai air disaster, the Foreign Secretary said today.

David Miliband said three Britons were still in hospital, one of them in critical condition, following the crash on Sunday evening.



Mr Miliband said Foreign Office staff were on hand in Phuket to assist Thai authorities and the relatives of those caught up in the tragedy.



In a statement, he said: "Everyone will have been shocked by the news of the air crash in Thailand on Sunday.



"My thoughts are with all of those who have been affected, and particularly with the families of the eight British nationals we now believe lost their lives.



"Three British nationals remain in hospital, one of them in a critical condition.



"Led by our Ambassador, Quinton Quayle, Foreign Office staff are offering all assistance that they can. I would like to commend them and the Thai authorities for the way in which they have responded to this terrible tragedy."



















At least 88 people died when the budget One-Two-Go Airlines' flight from Bangkok to Phuket crashed and burst into flames as it struggled to land in bad weather.

None of the victims or the survivors have been officially named but British consular staff are on the holiday island to assist with the aftermath of the tragedy.



Relatives have travelled to Phuket to begin the grim task of helping Thai authorities identify the dead.



On Monday, University of Ulster student Aaron Toland, 22, from Londonderry, was confirmed dead by the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs.



His friend, Christopher Cooley, from Londonderry, was also on the MD-82 plane and was being treated in intensive care in hospital.



One of the British survivors was today praised for his heroism after it emerged he had forced open an exit door and hauled a number of fellow passengers to safety.



Peter James Hill, 35, from Manchester, was described by the Thai Foreign Minister as a hero who "pulled two people out at his own risk".



Ashley Scott Harrow, 27, from Northern Ireland, who helped Mr Hill smash open the door, today spoke of their struggle to escape the burning wreckage.



Speaking to Sky News from his hospital bed, Mr Harrow said: "It was me and him that got the door open.



"I don't know if it was jammed, it was just dark, there was a ball of smoke and fumes.



"It was just hard to open it. Eventually I pulled the top of it, just really hard, it just half fell open, and then I just gave it a few more yanks and tugs and it just came off in my hands and we just both got out of the plane."



Mr Harrow said he woke up to see a fireball at the end of the plane.



"Peter was trying to open the top of the door, I think I was looking for a lever on the bottom, but I couldn't find it ... and then after that we still couldn't get it open.



"Then I could smell the fumes coming at us ... after that I maybe panicked a wee bit. I just grabbed the top handle and Peter was kicking the door.



"I just pulled it, that is when it half opened, after that, we were out ..."

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