Forty-nine people died when a Lao Airlines plane crashed into the Mekong River yesterday (16 October 2013).
The new ATR 72-600 turboprop aircraft was coming into land at Pakse International Airport, in southern Laos’ Champasak province, following a domestic flight from Vientiane, when it crashed into Southeast Asia’s biggest river.
The airline confirmed in a statement that 44 passengers and five crew members died in the incident, with no survivors. The accident is reported to have occurred in poor weather conditions.
“Upon preparing to land at Pakse Airport the aircraft ran into extreme bad weather conditions and… crashed into the Mekong River. There were no news of survivors at this time,” the national carrier said in a statement.
“Lao Airlines is taking all necessary steps to coordinate and dispatch all rescue units to the accident site in the hope of finding survivors and at the same time informing relative[s] of the passengers.”
The airline added that it hoped to provide further information about the cause of the crash today (Thursday 17 October).
Passengers from at least 11 different countries were onboard the flight, including French, Thai, South Korean, Australian, Canadian, Chinese, Taiwanese, Malaysian, American, Vietnamese and Lao nationals. Prior to this incident, state-run Lao Airlines had a good safety record, while the ATR 72-600 aircraft involved in the incident is virtually brand new, having only been delivered to Lao Airlines in March 2013. This is also believed to be the first ever crash involving the ATR 72-600.
Pakse is the largest city in southern Laos and lies close to the border with Thailand.