Report of aircraft crash in Thailand appears to be false

Searchers in Thailand say what was reported by police to have been an aircraft crash on a mountain appears to have been false, and was only a wildfire

BANGKOK -- Searchers in Thailand say what was reported by police to have been an aircraft crash on a mountain appears to have been only a wildfire.

Police and rescue organizations had earlier said a small aircraft had crashed in the eastern province of Rayong, with contradictory reports describing it as a small plane or helicopter. Photos posted online by the newspapers Khao Sod and Thai Rath showed a fire burning on a mountainside in the dark of night.

Police Senior Sgt.-Maj. Lertnaris Maneelert of Huai Pong subdistrict said a rescue team with police could not find any wreckage when they reached the fire, which was now extinguished. He said the rescue operation was terminated but searchers would return to the site in the morning to determine what happened.

Lertnaris earlier said police were informed of the crash in the early evening by villagers who had heard an explosion, and that Thai military helicopters flying over the site said they had seen the wreckage of a small two-seat helicopter.

He explained later that a villager saw a helicopter fly over and later heard an explosion and saw the fire.

A Thai military spokesman said none of its aircraft had crashed.

Rayong is part of Thailand's Eastern Seaboard, which has both popular seaside tourist destinations and large industrial developments.