Laos Plane Crash Kills All 49 Passengers

A plane crash in Laos killed all 49 people on board, according to a statement from the Laotian government. The plane, operated by Lao Airlines, was on approach to the southern city of Pakse when it ran into bad weather.

Thai foreign ministry spokesman Sek Wannamethee spoke with AFP, confirming that there were 44 people on the plane, including 39 passengers and five crew members. He added:

“I can now confirm, according to our reports, that all 44 people on board have died, including five Thai.”

At least seven French citizens were also aboard the plane, which was traveling from the Laotian capital of Vientiane. It crashed into the Mekong River about five miles from the Pakse airport.

While the Thai foreign ministry spokesman confirmed 44 people were on the plane, Lao Airlines stated on its Facebook page that 49 people were on board, 44 of which were passengers.

CNN notes that the victims of the Laos plane crash included 17 Laotian passengers, seven French, five Australians, five Thai, three Koreans, one Canadian, one Chinese, one Malaysian, one Vietnamese, and one Taiwanese. Five Laotian crew members were also killed.

No explanation was given for the discrepancy between that total and the 49 cited. Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade stated that six of their citizens were aboard the ATR 72 aircraft. The department added, “Lao authorities have told our embassy in Vientiane (the Laotian capital) they do not expect any survivors.”

KPL, the national news agency, explained that the propeller plane was preparing to land in Paske when a gust of wind appeared to push it away from the airport. Instead of landing, it crashed on or near an island in the Mekong river. Pictures on TV showed a small plane partially submerged in the river. There were also what appeared to be bodies laying on the banks of the river.

[Image by Jakkrit Prasertwit via Wikimedia Commons]