Monday, 21 October 2013

Bodies of two Thai crash victims found

Two Thais among those who perished in the Lao Airlines crash have now been identified, Laos authorities said yesterday.

Attempts to find other missing bodies including the other three Thais and the plane fuselage are still underway.

The two Thais whose bodies have been retrieved from the Mekong River in Laos' Pakse district where the plane crashed were identified as Phakkawat Atiratanachai and Kanueng Chartkasamchai.

The three Thais whose bodies have yet to be recovered are Yangyong Apaanan, Nipol Mengsee and Veekij Busarawuthanu.

Suchai Jirayunont, 58, a friend of Phakkawat, who is now in Pakse with Phakkawat's family, told the Bangkok Post yesterday he was informed by Lao authorities that one of the five bodies recovered yesterday was his friend Phakkawat.

Mr Suchai said the authorities told him that Thailand's Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) team did a computer match of Phakkawat's fingerprints and found they matched with those of the body.

Mr Suchai said the other body belonged to Kanueng. He said he was informed by the authorities that Kanueng's body had been found since the first day of the search but they weren't able to identify him.

However, the DVI team had brought back the corpse for re-identification yesterday and found the teeth of the body matched the dental patterns provided earlier by Kanueng's relatives.

"We are contacting Lao Airlines to help bring the two corpses back to Thailand for funeral rites," Mr Suchai said.

The five Thais were among 44 passengers and five crew on board Lao Airlines flight QV301 that crashed into Don Khor islet in the Mekong River last Wednesday in Champassak's Pakse district, after failing to land at Pakse International Airport. The airline later blamed the crash on bad weather caused by tropical storm Nari.

Lao National Television director Boonjom Wongpetch said 41 bodies and 13 body parts have now been recovered from the crash site, including the five retrieved yesterday. It is assumed there were no survivors.

Mr Boonjom said 14 corpses have been identified and 12 of them picked up by relatives. Of the 12 bodies picked up, 10 were Lao nationals, while one was a Chinese national and one was the Cambodian pilot of the plane, he said.

"Rescuers are continuing to search for the missing bodies in the river," Mr Boonjom said. "Two more boats and one helicopter are also being deployed to help the search."

He added Vientiane will pay an initial 20 million kip (about 76,000 baht) to help the family of each Lao victim pay for funeral rites.

Pol Gen Charumporn Suramanee, an adviser to the National Police Office and chief of Thailand's DVI team, who is in Pakse to help Lao authorities identify the corpses retrieved from the river, said the team wants relatives of the victims whose bodies are still missing to provide personal information and biological samples such as dental records and fingerprints to complete the identification process.

Laos will hold a nationwide ceremony around 2.15pm today to commemorate the 49 victims of the crash. Laos' Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Duangchay Pichit will chair the event in Pakse.

Monday 21 October 2013


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