Rescuers in small fishing boats and inflatable rafts were combing through the murky waters of Mekong River on Thursday after the Lao Airlines Crash. Officials fear the worst and have ruled out the possibility of finding survivors, killing all 49 people from 11 countries.
“Eight bodies have been found”, some as far as 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the crash site according to Yakao Lopangkao director-general of Lao’s Department of Civil Aviation. The plane however, hasn’t been found as it is assumed to be underwater. “We’re trying to use divers to locate it.” Thailand, which boarders Laos, sent as many as 30 divers to help with the search.
Lopangkao ruled out finding survivors. “There is no hope. The plane appears to have crashed very hard before entering the water.”
Details of the accident remains unclear. The state-run Lao Airlines said in a statement that the plane took off from the capital Vientiane and “ran into extreme bad weather conditions” as it prepared to land at Pakse Airport, only 7 kilometers (4 miles) from the airport. The airplane was a ATR-72 aircraft and was only delivered in March of 2013. The French plane maker ATR said in a statement that “the circumstances of the accident are still being determined” and will assist in the Lao-led investigation.
A passenger manifest provided 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.