Recovery effort underway after Lao Airlines plane crash

Recovery effort underway after Lao Airlines plane crash

Lao authorities and Lao Airlines officials are putting every effort into the recovery operation after flight QV301 went down in Champassak province on Wednesday afternoon, retrieving the bodies of the victims and the wreckage of the plane from the Mekong River.

Lao Airlines officials said at 9am yesterday they believed there were no survivors of the fatal plane crash, which occurred just outside Pakxe.

Flight QV301 departed Vientiane for Pakxe at 2:45pm on Wednesday and crashed just over an hour later while approaching Pakxe airport for landing, after running into bad weather in the wake of Tropical Storm Nari.

All 49 passengers and crew on board are believed to have died after the plane plunged into the Mekong River near Phaling village in Phonthong district, in what is thought to have been a high impact crash.

Lao Airlines President and CEO Dr Somphone Doungdara addressed the media yesterday, expressing his deepest sympathies to the families and friends of those who died in the tragic accident.

"We have organised response teams and are focusing on rescuing the bodies of the dead. We are also notifying the relatives of the deceased and liaising with consular officials," Dr Somphone said.

"We will provide all necessary assistance and support to the families of the victims. Their funeral costs and other expenses will be met by Lao Airlines and our insurers."

Dr Somphone said the precise cause of the crash remains unknown and the exact number of those who died is also uncertain despite the fact that the flight manifest details are available, because recovery operations are still underway.

"Our taskforce is working with provincial and local authorities to speed up the search for the victims. An investigation is currently underway into the exact cause of the accident and the findings will be made available as soon as possible," he said.

Director General of the Department of Civil Aviation, Mr Yakua Lopangkao, was on hand to oversee the recovery efforts yesterday. He reported that Lao and Thai divers were using drop lines to locate the wreckage of the plane.

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