Laos recovers crashed plane black boxes

Laos recovers crashed plane black boxes
Villagers look at part of a wing from the Lao Airlines plane crash, along the bank of the Mekong river in Pakse town.

BANGKOK, Thailand - Search teams on Thursday recovered the flight data recorders of a Lao Airlines plane that plunged into the Mekong River in bad weather killing all 49 people on board, officials said.

The black boxes, which include both voice and data recordings, were found early Thursday as part of efforts to recover parts of the stricken craft from the river’s fast-flowing waters, according to Yakua Lopankao, director general of Laos’ Department of Civil Aviation.

“It has not yet been decided where to send them to be examined, it is up to the air accident investigation committee,” he said of the operation, which has been assisted by experts from the French aviation safety agency BEA.

The Lao Airlines turboprop ATR-72 plummeted into the Mekong as it went to land in the southern town of Pakse on October 16 in the country’s worst air disaster.

More than half of the 49 passengers and crew were foreigners from some 10 countries.

So far 47 bodies have been recovered, some many kilometres downstream from the crash site as rescuers battled strong currents along the swollen river.

So far, at least 43 of the victims have been identified, according to a Lao Airlines statement on Wednesday.

“Our efforts remain focused on caring for the bereaved families of the victims and doing what we can to alleviate the trauma they are suffering and assist them as much as possible at this difficult time,” it said.

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