BANGKOK (AP) — A Laos Airlines flight crashed Wednesday in the Southeast Asian nation, apparently killing all 49 people aboard, including passengers from 11 countries, the Lao government said.
The Ministry of Public Works and Transport, which operates the airline as a state enterprise, said 44 passengers and five crew members were aboard flight QV301 from the Lao capital,Vientiane, to Pakse in the country's south. Earlier reports had said there were 39 passengers on board.
"Upon preparing to land at Pakse Airport the aircraft ran into extreme bad weather conditions and was reportedly crashed into the Mekong River," the ministry said in a statement. It said there was no word of survivors. The airline flies an ATR-72 twin-engine turboprop plane on the 467-kilometer (290-mile) route.
Thai Foreign Ministry spokesman Sek Wannamethee said his country's embassy in Vientianewas informed that the plane crashed 7-8 kilometers (4-5 miles) from the airport at Pakse.
A passenger manifest faxed by the airline listed 44 people: 17 Lao, seven French, five Australians, five Thais, three Koreans, two Vietnamese and one person each from Canada,China, Malaysia, Taiwan and the United States. Korean, French and Thai officials confirmed the totals for their nationalities.
The Lao government said the airline "is taking all necessary steps to coordinate and dispatch all rescue units to the accident site in the hope of finding survivors."
It said the crash is being investigated and the airline hoped to announce its findings on Thursday. A Laos Airlines employee contacted by phone at Vientiane's Wattay airport said a news conference would be held Thursday.
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