A Lao Airlines plane crashed into the Mekong river in southern Laos on Wednesday, according to an airline official, in an accident Thai television channels said killed 39 people.
A Lao Airlines official said the plane had crashed at about 4 p.m. (0900) near Pakse, Champasak province, which is on the borders of both Thailand and Cambodia.
Thai television showed a photograph of the ATR 72 turboprop plane partly submerged in shallow water on a stretch of the Mekong, the tail severed. Another television channel showed what appeared to be several bodies on the bank of the river.
"We do not yet know the number of casualties, our executives are currently in a meeting and will provide more details in the morning," the airline official said by telephone.
Thai media said 39 people were killed, among them two Thai nationals. It did not give the source of the information.
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.
A photograph being widely circulated as of the crashed aircraft in Laos actually appears to be from the crash in July of a flight in Russia, according to the report on the usually reliable Aviation Herald site:
JACDEC says ATR72-600, not MA60. Although initially one would definitely suspect an MA60 as part the story, since this type has some of the worst safety records in aviation and no western country wants to approve it (except MOL, if he had a chance!)
"Thai television showed a photograph of the ATR 72 turboprop plane partly submerged in shallow water on a stretch of the Mekong, the tail severed. Another television channel showed what appeared to be several bodies on the bank of the river."
Sad day. Aviation in Asia is expanding at such a fast pace, keeping up with it generates a lot more risky environment, be it pilot training, systems update, and experience.
That is unprofesional and unfair comment which sounds like a political biased insane judge toward MA-60 even though you got know that it is ATR-600!
Fair point. At this stage we don't know whether technical issues, or indeed anything to do with the specific aircraft type, were implicated in the accident..
As for the wider issue of the MA-60's safety, it's worth bearing in mind what the NZ government has said on the subject, in advice to travellers to Tonga:
"Tongas domestic airline fleet currently includes an MA-60 aircraft. This aircraft has been involved in a significant number of accidents in the last few years. The MA-60 is not certified to fly in New Zealand or other comparable jurisdictions and would not be allowed to do so without a thorough certification process under Civil Aviation rules. Travellers utilising the MA-60 do so at their own risk."
Several news sources are reporting a possible microburst induced upset, rapid pitch up and subsequent loss of control. Weather seems to have been a significant factor.
Since the flight recorders haven't been found, several news sources are probably just parroting the same questionable eyewitness report, and letting the great interweb do what it's best at doing - allowing uncredited, unverified "facts" to appear on websites which are then lauded as being gospel.