Canadian among 49 people feared dead in Laos plane crash

A domestic flight crashed Wednesday in Laos and all 49 people on board, including a Canadian, are feared dead, said the government of the Southeast Asian nation.

BANGKOK, Thailand — A domestic flight crashed Wednesday in Laos and all 49 people on board, including a Canadian, are feared dead, said the government of the Southeast Asian nation.

The Ministry of Public Works and Transport said 44 passengers from 11 countries and five crew members were aboard Laos Airlines flight QV301 travelling from the Lao capital, Vientiane, to Pakse in the country’s south.

“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.

A Foreign Affairs spokesman in Ottawa said the department is working closely with local authorities to confirm if Canadian citizens “have been affected.”

The state-owned airline flies an ATR 72-600 twin-engine turboprop plane on the 467-kilometre route.

The Lao government said the airline “is taking all necessary steps to co-ordinate and dispatch all rescue units to the accident site in the hope of finding survivors.”

However, a statement from Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs said “Lao authorities have told our embassy in Vientiane they do not expect any survivors.”

Thai Foreign Ministry spokesman Sek Wannamethee says his country’s embassy in Vientiane was informed that the plane crashed seven to eight kilometres from the airport at Pakse.

Local authorities said the crash is being investigated and the airline hoped to announce its findings on Thursday. A Lao Airlines employee contacted by phone at Vientiane’s Wattay airport said a news conference would be held Thursday.

The aircraft’s maker, ATR, issued a statement from its headquarters in Toulouse, France, saying that it will provide full assistance under international aviation rules to the investigation of the crash. It said the Lao Airlines plane had been delivered from the production line in March this year.

A passenger manifest 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.

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