A Lao Airlines airplane crashed into the Mekong River at around 4 p.m. local time. The plane was bound for Pakse, Champassak in Southern Laos from capital Vientiane.(Xinhua photo)
PAKSE, Laos, Oct. 18 (Xinhua) -- Thirty bodies have been recovered since the Lao Airlines flight QV301 crashed into the Mekong river two days ago, Director of Lao Civil Aviation Yakao Lopangkao told Xinhua on Friday.
The family of a Chinese passenger whose body was recovered have come to Laos and will cremate the remains on Saturday.
According to Lopangkao the "black box" flight data recorder has yet to be recovered.
A Thai army officer told Xinhua an additional contingent of at least 40 Thai soldiers, including a ten-member navy diving team, had just arrived to assist in the recovery effort. The diving team is equipped with site scan sonar, echo sonar and metal detection equipment.
A volunteer diver told Xinhua that the dangerously strong current below the Mekong river surface was hampering searching efforts. The river is about seven to eight meters deep, he said.
A sombre mood lingers at Chond De temple, where bodies of the crash victims are awaiting to be identified. Grieving families, police and paramedics flooded the scene and ambulances arrived frequently, carrying the bodies of the victims.
Some reporters told Xinhua that they had discovered a floating body as they took a fishing boat out to the crash site on Friday.
The Lao Airlines plane crashed into the bank of the Mekong river on Wednesday in bad weather before coming to rest in the river itself. The aircraft was flying from Lao capital Vientiane to Pakse International Airport with 44 passengers and five crew on board.
According to Lao Airlines President Somphone Douangdara, the captain of the plane was an experienced pilot from Cambodia and that freak weather condition was to blame for the crash.
The aircraft, an ATR, had only recorded 758 flight hours since it was put into service in March. The plane was purchased from France earlier this year.
Douangdara emphasized Lao Airlines' safety record and the fact that only highly qualified pilots and technicians are hired. The last accident occurred in 1999.
PHNOM PENH, Oct. 17 (Xinhua) -- The captain of a passenger plane that crashed into the Mekong River in southern Laos on Wednesday, which resulted in the death of 49 people, was a veteran Cambodian pilot, a senior civil aviation official confirmed Thursday.
"Young San, 56, was in charge of the Lao Airlines plane that plunged into the Mekong River on Wednesday due to bad weather," Him Sarun, deputy chief of the security and safety department at the Cambodia's State Secretariat of Civil Aviation, told Xinhua over telephone. Full story