A Lao Airlines plane reportedly carrying 44 passengers and five crew members crashed into the Mekong River in Laos on Wednesday, killing everyone on board, the government said. Multiple officials confirmed that none of the passengers or crew members had survived.
According to Reuters, the plane had taken off from the Laos capital of Vientiane and was en route to Pakse when it crashed approximately five miles from its destination. The plane was a relatively new model ATR-72, a twin-engine turboprop aircraft manufactured by the French-Italian company Aerei da Trasporto Regionale. In a single-class seating configuration, the plane can hold up to 78 passengers, but according to officials only 44 people in total were on board.
In a statement, Lao Airlines, the national airline, said the cause of the crash had not yet been determined. But a senior aviation official said it may have at least partially been caused by the tail end of Typhoon Nari, traces of which were drifting over the country at the time of the incident.
The Ministry of Public Works and Transport, which operates the airline, released a statement saying: "Upon preparing to land at Pakse Airport the aircraft ran into extreme bad weather conditions and was reportedly crashed into the Mekong River.”
The government added that it was "taking all necessary steps to coordinate and dispatch all rescue units to the accident site in the hope of finding survivors."
According to the Associated Press, the airline also faxed over a manifest listing 44 people on board, including: 17 Lao, seven French, five Australians, five Thais, three Koreans, two Vietnamese, and one person from Canada, China, Malaysia, Taiwan, and the U.S. each. Those numbers were confirmed by Korean, French and Thai officials, respectively.
A representative for the airline said that a news conference was being scheduled for Thursday.