Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Laos plane crash: recovery operations continuing

We are trying our best to accelerate the recovery working to deal with the aftermath of the airplane crash," Khine Simvongsa, Director of the Flight Safety Division, Department of Civil Aviation of Laos told China's Xinhua news agency on Tuesday, days after a devastating plane crash that killed all 49 people on board.

"We have located the black box with the tail of the airplane. The first step in recovering the black box recorder is to let the dive team reach the tail," Simvongsa said.

"Recovery efforts are being hampered by poor visibility and the strong flow of the wet-season Mekong.

"If we can't reach the recorder that way, we'll try a different plan. We don't know exactly when we'll be able to retrieve it," said Simvongsa.

Lao Airlines flight QV301 departed capital Vientiane for Pakse, Champassak in southern Laos at 2.45 pm (0745 GMT) last Wednesday and crashed into the Mekong more than an hour later.

The twin engine ATR 72-600 crashed seven km from Pakse International Airport as it approached for landing. Officials believe the accident may have been caused by poor weather conditions in the wake of tropical storm Nari.

The accident is considered the worst aviation disaster in Lao history. All 49 people on board including five crew members and 44 passengers were killed.

As of Monday, 43 bodies had been recovered with 17 identified, according to officials at the site.

The nine identified bodies have been handed over to relatives. The remains of seven foreign nationals have been returned, including two from Vietnam and one each from Cambodia, China, China's Taiwan, Malaysia and the United States.

Lao Government offices and mass organizations on Monday observed a minute's silence in a moment of mourning for the 49 victims.

During the ceremony, Champassak provincial Governor Sonexay Siphandone said the government and people of Laos expressed their condolences over the deaths.

Sonexay said the provincial authority had mobilised soldiers, doctors and other officials from across Champassak to help with recovery efforts.

The Director General of Lao Airlines' Planning and Cooperation Department, Sitthideth Duangsitthi said that its insurance company has paid an initial payment to the family of each of the victims to cover funeral expenses, and further compensation is expected at some point in the future.

Lao Airlines Vice President, Somsamay Visounnalath, said insurance cover for such accidents was valued at more than US$100 million, according to local daily the Vientiane Times on Tuesday.

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

Three Korean passenger identified The bodies of three Korean passengers who died in a plane crash last week in Laos have been found and identified. Korea's foreign ministry said Tuesday that a local search team confirmed the identities of the three victims through their fingerprints.

The Lao airplane crashed into the Mekong River amid bad weather killing all 49 passengers and crewmembers on board, including three Korean businessmen.

Authorities are still trying to recover the bodies of the remaining six as well as the black box recorder to determine the exact cause of the crash.

Wednesday 23 October 2013


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