partlycloudy
Sunday May 24th, 2015 7:34PM

One American among dead in Lao Airlines crash

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
PAKSE, Laos (AP) -- Rescuers in fishing boats pulled bodies from the muddy Mekong River on Thursday as officials in Laos ruled out finding survivors from a plane that crashed in stormy weather, killing 49 people from 11 countries.

Backpacks, two broken airplane propellers and passports were among the debris scattered on the riverbank where the Lao Airlines turboprop plane left deep skid marks in the ground before disappearing into the water Wednesday.

"We have found nine bodies so far. At this point we don't know their nationalities," said Yakao Lopangkao, director-general of Lao's Department of Civil Aviation, who was at the crash site in Pakse in southern Laos. "We haven't found the plane yet. It is underwater. We're trying to use divers to locate it."

He ruled out finding survivors. "There is no hope. The plane appears to have crashed very hard before entering the water."

Some of the bodies were found by fishermen floating downstream as far as 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the crash site, he said.

"We have asked villagers and people who live along the river to look for bodies and alert authorities when they see anything," he said.

Fleets of small boats and inflatable rafts plied the muddy, vast waterway as part of the search, with men in life vests peering into the water. After storms Wednesday, the search took place under sunny blue skies.

Thailand, which borders Laos, sent 30 scuba divers to help in the search for bodies, said Thai Foreign Ministry spokesman Sek Wannamethee.

State-run Lao Airlines released an updated list of the 44 passengers' nationalities on Thursday. It said the flight included 16 Lao nationals, seven French, six Australians, five Thais, three Koreans, two Vietnamese and one person each from Canada, China, Malaysia, Taiwan and the United States.

The area is off the main tourist circuit in Laos but known for its remote Buddhist temples, nature treks and waterfalls.

Cambodian authorities said one of the plane's pilots was a 56-year-old Cambodian with more than 30 years' flying experience.

Details of the crash remained murky. Lao Airlines said in a statement Wednesday that the plane took off from the capital, Vientiane, and "ran into extreme bad weather conditions" as it prepared to land at Pakse Airport. The crash occurred about 7 kilometers (4 miles) from the airport.

The airline said it had yet to determine the cause of the crash of the ATR-72 aircraft, which had just been delivered in March.

French-Italian aircraft manufacturer ATR said in a statement that "the circumstances of the accident are still being determined." It said that it will assist in the investigation which will be led by Lao authorities.

It was the first fatal crash for Laos' state carrier since 2000, when two separate crashes left 23 people dead.

The ATR-72 has been involved in 16 crashes since it went into service in 1988, according to databases kept by the Flight Safety Foundation and the Bureau of Aircraft Accidents Archives. The death toll from Wednesday's crash was the third highest on record involving an ATR-72; accidents in the U.S. in 1988 and Cuba in 2010 each killed 68 people. ATR had delivered 611 of the planes by the end of last year.

Among the six Australians on board was a family of four. Relatives released a photo of the family, Gavin and Phoumalaysy Rhodes and their two children, a 3-year-old girl and a 17-month-old boy.

The other two Australians were a father and son. They were identified as Michael Creighton, a 42-year-old aid worker based in Laos who had worked for the United Nations, and his father, Gordon Creighton, 71, a retired teacher who was visiting his son.

"We have lost a father, a husband, a son, a brother, a fiance and a best mate in one tragic circumstance and we are trying to come to terms with our loss," the family said in a statement. Michael Creighton was living in Laos with his fiancee, who was not on the plane.

Lao Airlines was founded in 1976 after the communist takeover of Laos, operating under the name Lao Aviation until a rebranding in 2003. It originally operated with Chinese- and Soviet-built aircraft, which were replaced in the mid-1990s as part of a major upgrade that included the purchase of ATR turboprops and in 2011 the delivery of two Airbus A320 aircraft.
© Copyright 2015 AccessNorthGa.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
S&P 500 index has its best year since 1997
The stock market closed out a record year with more all-time highs on Tuesday, giving U.S. indexes their biggest annual gains in almost two decades.
6:56PM ( 1 year ago )
Colorado readies for 'Green Wednesday' pot sales
Police were adding extra patrols around pot shops in eight Colorado towns that plan to allow recreational sales to anyone over 21 on Jan. 1.
1:52PM ( 1 year ago )
Kerry seeks framework for Mideast peace talks
A senior State Department official says Secretary of State John Kerry will try this week to get Israel and the Palestinians to agree on a framework for negotiating a final peace agreement, yet cautions against raising expectations for Kerry's latest round of shuttle diplomacy.
1:35PM ( 1 year ago )
U.S. News
Ethics laws set to take effect Jan. 1 in Georgia
After dominating much of the legislative session, a set of major ethics reforms is scheduled to take effect Jan. 1.
7:04PM ( 1 year ago )
Sex offender held in Hall County for failing to register
A 47-year-old man was booked into the Hall County Jail Tuesday, being held without bond for allegedly failing to register as a sex offender, his second such arrest.
6:09PM ( 1 year ago )
Pharmacy robberies may involve same suspect
Oakwood Police Tuesday afternoon released details in a pharmacy robbery they're investigating, similar to one that happened in the Hall County Tuesday morning.
5:46PM ( 1 year ago )
Local/State News
US rejects nuclear disarmament document over Israel concerns
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United States on Friday blocked a global document aimed at ridding the world of nuclear weapons, saying Egypt and other states tried to "cynically manipulate" the process by...
9:33PM ( 1 day ago )
Obama again avoids calling 1915 Armenian killings 'genocide'
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama will once again stop short of calling the 1915 massacre of Armenians a genocide, prompting anger and disappointment from those who have been pushing him to ful...
1:00PM ( 1 month ago )
Ex-NFL star Hernandez convicted of murder, sentenced to life
FALL RIVER, Mass. (AP) — Former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison Wednesday for a deadly late-night shooting, sealing the d...
8:54PM ( 1 month ago )
Clinton kicks off 2016 campaign online, heads next to Iowa
WASHINGTON (AP) — Hillary Rodham Clinton jumped back into presidential politics on Sunday, making a much-awaited announcement she will again seek the White House with a promise to serve as the "champi...
7:56PM ( 1 month ago )
Hall, White, Jefferson schools recognized nationally for use of technology
Three school districts in northeast Georgia - Hall, White, and Jefferson - have received national recognition for their use use of innovative technologies. They earned top spots in the Center for Digital Education's and the National School Boards Association's 10th annual Digital School Districts Survey.
By Staff
1:00PM ( 1 month ago )