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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Friday, October 19, 2018


Scores killed as Laos Airlines plane crashes into Mekong river

A passenger plane crashed landed into the Mekong river

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VIENTIANE, Laos - A passenger plane crashed landed into the Mekong river during a stormy weather in southern Laos Wednesday, killing all people onboard, witnesses said.

According to the national news agency, KPL, of Laos, the crash occurred near the Champasak provincial capital of Pakse.

The Laotian authorities were yet to release an official death toll but KPL citing eyewitnesses said at least 47 people were killed. The casualty figure however varied with other agencies saying that 44 people on board the plane were killed.

The deceased included nationals of 10 countries.

The ATR-72 turboprop plane was flying from the capital Vientiane to Pakse, which is near the borders of both Thailand and Cambodia.

KPL said the plane was preparing to land when a wind gust appeared to push it away from the airport. The plane crashed on or near an island in the Mekong river.

The airline said in a statement it had yet to determine the cause of the crash. A senior aviation official said the tail end of typhoon Nari may have been a factor.

Those killed were mostly Lao nationals. But seven French nationals were also killed, the country's Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said.

South Koreans, Australians, Canadians, Taiwanese, Chinese, Burmese and Vietnamese and five Thais were also among the dead.

Several officials confirmed none of the passengers or crew survived.

Thai television showed a photograph of the plane partly submerged in shallow water on a stretch of the Mekong, the tail severed, next to a handful of rescuers in small boats.

Lao Airlines has six ATR-72 planes, co-manufactured by Airbus parent EADS and Italian aerospace firm Finmeccanica.

ATR said the aircraft that crashed was its latest ATR 72-600 model, designed to seat between 68 and 74 people. It had left the production line in March this year.

It said Laos authorities would lead an investigation into the crash, whose cause had not been determined.

Lao Airlines operates on seven domestic routes and has international flights to China, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam and Singapore. more...

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