Lao Airlines crash victims' families receive insurance payout

LAOS - Lao Airlines and its insurance company have paid 20 million kip (S$3,105) and $5,000 (S$6,210) respectively, to the family of each victim in last week's plane crash.

The initial payment is intended to cover funeral expenses and further compensation is expected at some point in the future, according to the Director General of Lao Airlines' Planning and Cooperation Department Sitthideth Duangsitthi.

Sitthideth could not provide any further details of upcoming payments.

In a media conference held on Friday in Vientiane, Lao Airlines Vice President, Mr Somsamay Visounnalath, said insurance cover for such accidents was valued at more than $100 million (S$124 million), but could not provide more specific information.

Lao Airlines is covered by London-based insurance company Willis, which Somsamay said meant the airline had international-standard insurance.

"The insurance covers the crew, passengers and the plane," he said.

Somsamay said insurance payouts for victims' families would be in line with international standards.

He said four representatives from the insurance company - two from London and two from Singapore - had arrived in Laos on Thursday to assess the situation.

The 44 passengers on board the crashed plane included 16 Lao nationals, seven French, six Australians, five Thais, three South Koreans and three Vietnamese, as well as an American, a Chinese national, a Malaysian and one person from Taiwan. Four of the crew were Lao while the pilot hailed from Cambodia.

As of 5pm yesterday, 43 bodies had been recovered and 17 identified, according to officials at the site.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has instructed immigration officials and Lao embassies and consulates around the world to waive entry visa fees for families coming to Laos to bring home victims' remains.