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44 killed as Laos plane crashes in river

Bangkok, Oct. 16 (Reuters): A Lao Airlines plane flying in stormy weather crashed into the Mekong river in southern Laos today, killing all 44 people on board, among them nationals of 10 countries.

The ATR-72 turboprop plane flying from the capital Vientiane crashed at about 0910GMT just 8km short of its destination Pakse, which is near the borders of both Thailand and Cambodia. The airline said in a statement it had yet to determine the cause of the crash, in which a senior aviation official said the tail end of Typhoon Nari may have been a factor.

Those killed were mostly Lao nationals. But seven French nationals were also killed, the country’s foreign minister Laurent Fabius said.

South Koreans, Australians, Canadians, Taiwanese, Chinese, Myanmarese and Vietnamese and five Thais were also among the dead, said Thailand’s foreign ministry spokesman, Sek Wannamethee. Several officials confirmed none of the passengers or crew survived.

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. Southern Laos was affected by Typhoon Nari, which hit the region on Tuesday killing 13 people in the Philippines and five in Vietnam.

 
 
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