Five Thais were killed when a Lao Airlines plane crashed into the Mekong River in Don Khor village of Ban Phalong in Phonethong district in Laos' Champassak province yesterday.
The five were among 44 passengers and five crew members, all of whom are believed to have died in the accident.
A Lao Airlines official told the Bangkok Post that there were five Thais on board. They were identified as Yangyong Apaanan, Nipol Mengsee, Kamueng Chartkasamchai, Phakkhawat Atiratanachai and Veekij Busarawuthanu.
In Thailand, a public relations officer for PTT Plc confirmed that two of the Thai victims _ Yanyong and Nipol _ were working for a a subsidiary under PTT. They were travelling to work at a PTT site in Pakse. One Lao national working for the company was also on the flight.
According to a statement by Lao Airlines, a state enterprise under the Lao Ministry of Public Works and Transport, the ATR 72-500 twin-engine turboprop, Flight QV301, was travelling from Vientiane to Pakse. It left at 2.45pm and was expected to arrived at Pakse airport in southern Laos at 3.55pm. Upon preparing to land at the airport the aircraft encountered extremely bad weather conditions and crashed.
"There is no news of survivors at this time," the ministry said in its statement.
"We express our condolences to family, friends, colleagues and relatives on the unexpected turn of events for passengers on Flight QV301," the airline said.
The airline official said she received a report that as the plane made its descent to land at Pakse airport, stormy weather caused the aircraft to veer off course and crash into the Mekong River.
A foreign resident of Pakse told the Bangkok Post that the Chinese temple in front of his house had become an emergency centre.
"I nearly passed out, my blood curdling, as I saw lifeless bodies laying about and other lifeless bodies being brought in, some connected to IV drips. It's complete chaos out front, as emergency vehicles grapple with usual traffic on this potholed, muddy stretch of road and hundreds of people loiter about, some curious, others presumably concerned that their loved ones are among the depredation. It's absolute horror!," he said.
The director-general of Lao's Department of Civil Aviation, Yakua Lopangkao, told the Vientiane Times newspaper that the accident may have occurred due to bad weather brought on by Tropical Storm Nari.
However, the actual cause of the crash was still under investigation and further information would be made available when the probe revealed further details.
According to the manifest, the other passengers on board included five Australians, three Koreans, seven French citizens, two Vietnamese nationals, one American, one Chinese, one Taiwanese, and one Canadian.