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Lao Airlines flight QV301 carrying 44 people crashed into the Mekong River in southern Laos on Wednesday afternoon, killing everyone on board.
Three Korean nationals were on the plane. Lee Hong-jik and Lee Jae-sang were businessmen in their mid-40s and Lee Kang-pil a resident in Laos. The Foreign Ministry said local staff were dispatched to the crash site.
The Lao government made no announcement for the first five hours after the crash.
An airline official told Reuters, “We have not grasped the details of the accident. We are currently holding an emergency meeting, and we will make a detailed announcement tomorrow morning.”
CNN and the Bangkok Post reported that bad weather was the cause of the accident, citing a witness.
The plane took off from Wattay International Airport in the Lao capital of Vientiane at 2:45 p.m. and crashed into the Mekong River not far from the Cambodian-Thai border at 4 p.m., just before it was due to land in Pakse International Airport in Champassak Province in southern Laos. It had just seven to eight kilometers remaining of its 467 km journey.
Thai media aired images of the plane in the river with the tip chopped off and victims’ bodies laid out along the shore.
The plane was an ATR72-600 turbo-prop aircraft manufactured by the joint venture between France’s Airbus parent EADS and Italian company Finmeccanica.
Lao Airlines is state-run and started operations in 1976. Most of its 14 aircrafts are turboprops. It operates seven domestic and international routes connecting Laos to Cambodia, China, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.