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French nationals among 44 killed in Laos plane crash

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-10-16

A Lao Airlines flight from the capital Vientiane to the southern town of Pakse crashed into the Mekong River Wednesday, killing all 44 people on board, including at least seven French nationals, according to French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.

A Lao Airlines flight crashed Wednesday in the Southeast Asian country, killing all 44 people aboard, including seven French nationals, according to the French Foreign Ministry.

The domestic flight from the capital of Vientiane to Pakse in southern Laos crashed at about 4pm local time in Champasak province, situated near the borders of both Thailand and Cambodia, according to a Lao Airline official.

The 39 passengers aboard the flight included at least seven French nationals, according to French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.

"I have just learned with deep shock and great sadness of the air disaster that took place in southern Laos, in which at least seven of our compatriots were killed," Fabius said in a statement.

"My first thoughts are with the families and friends of the victims," said Fabius, adding that France was rushing embassy officials to the site of the crash.

He said a crisis cell had been set up to help the families of the victims.

"Every effort will be made to support and assist the families of our compatriots in dealing with this terrible tragedy," Fabius said.

According to Thai Foreign Ministry spokesman Sek Wannamethee, the flight crashed 7-8 kilometers (4-5 miles) short of the international airport at Pakse. Reports by China's official Xinhua News Agency and Thai media said the plane crashed in the Mekong River.

Sek said five Thai nationals were among the 39 passengers. Five crew members were also aboard.

Calls to Lao government officials and airline offices seeking further details went unanswered. Laos has a less developed infrastructure and tourist industry than its bigger neighbors and communications are sometimes difficult.

The airline flies an ATR-72 twin-engine turboprop plane on the 467-kilometer (290-mile) route.

(FRANCE 24 with news wires)
 

 

Date created : 2013-10-16

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