Dozens Dead in Lao Airlines Crash

The Laos national news agency, KPL, is reporting that a Lao Airlines passenger plane crashed on October 16, 2013 as it attempted a landing in poor weather at an airport in southern Laos. The remnants of Typhoon Narihave been drenching the area with heavy rains and strong winds for the last few days, and eyewitnesses reported that the plane appeared to be buffeted by extremely strong winds as it approached the runway, pushing it away from the airport. The plane then reportedly went out of control and crashed onto an island in the middle of the Mekong River. All 49 passengers and crew were killed in the crash.

The plane had departed the Laotian capital of Vientiane and was headed to Pakse, which had received almost 4 inches of rain over the previous 36 hours. Among the 44 passengers were seventeen Lao, seven French, five Australians, five Thais, three Koreans, two Vietnamese and one person each from Canada, China, Malaysia, Taiwan and the United States.

The plane was an ATR-72-600 twin-engine turboprop, a common model used by short-distance regional airlines in the area. The airplane was reportedly delivered to Lao Airlines in March, 2013, and seats up to 78 people. The ATR-72 has a good safety record in warmer climates, though it has shown a tendency to have difficulties in icy conditions. Despite this it continues to be operated in cold weather countries in Northern Europe.

Lao airlines has just 14 planes in its fleet and had a spotless safety record prior to this crash. An investigation into the cause of the crash is ongoing, and no conclusions have been published.

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