October 17, 2013 / 3:56 AM / 6 years ago

Bad weather being blamed for Lao Airlines crash which killed 49 passengers and crew

Villagers look at debris and luggage retrieved from the crash site of an ATR-72 turboprop plane, in Laos, near Pakse October 17, 2013. REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Bad weather is being blamed for the crash of a Lao Airlines plane which plunged into the Mekong river in southern Laos killing all 49 people on board, among them nationals of 10 countries.

The ATR-72 turboprop plane flying from the capital Vientiane crashed at about 4.10 p.m. (0910 GMT) on Wednesday just eight km (five miles) short of its destination Pakse, which is near the borders of both Thailand and Cambodia.

A Lao Airlines official, who did not wish to be named, told Reuters that 44 passengers and five crew members were on Flight QV301 from the capital, Vientiane, to Pakse in the country’s south when it ran into bad weather. Earlier officials said a total of 44 passengers and crew had died in the crash.

“Bad weather as the plane prepared for landing could be a factor in the crash. We understand there are no survivors but are still investigating,” she said.

A senior aviation official said the tail end of Typhoon Nari may have been a factor. Southern Laos was affected by Typhoon Nari, which hit the region on Tuesday.

A passenger list from the airline listed the nationalities of 44 people including 17 Lao, five Australians, seven French, five Thais, three Korean, two Vietnamese and one person each from the United States, Canada, China Malaysia, and Taiwan.

Lao Airlines is the national carrier of the communist state and has operated since 1976. Its aircraft carried 658,000 passengers last year and it has a fleet of just 14 planes, mostly propeller-driven.

It operates on seven domestic routes and has international flights to China, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam and Singapore.

(This story is refiled to correct name of airline in headline, paragraphs 1 and 3, to Lao)

Reporting by Amy Sawitta Lefevre; Editing by Michael Perry

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