49 passengers from crashed Lao Airlines flight identified
Forty-two passengers have been identified from Lao Airlines flight QV301 which crashed on Oct. 16 killing all 49 on board, Somkiet Vorralath, deputy director of Champassak Provincial Health told Xinhua on Monday.
According to Vorralath, officials are waiting for DNA samples from Thailand and Australia in order to aid the identification process. Seven of the passengers are still unidentified including three French, two Lao people and two Australians.
The plane's "blackbox" data flight recorders are still unrecovered, Yakua Lopangkao, director general of the Lao Civil Aviation Department, told Xinhua on Monday. Repairs to a crane equipped barge caused minor delays but teams will continue through the night in attempts to reach the blackbox units, he said.
According to Lopangkao, poor visibility and the strong current of the wet-season Mekong are continuing to make recovery efforts difficult.
The two blackbox units contain information that may help officials determine details of the crash. One unit records aircraft performance parameters and inputs to the plane's electronic systems while the other records radio communications, conversations in the cockpit and ambient sounds.
The twin engine ATR 72-600 crashed into the Mekong River during bad weather 7 km from its destination of Pakse International Airport. The aircraft had only recorded 758 hours of flight time since it was bought from France and put into service in March.
The captain of flight QV301 was an experienced pilot from Cambodia, said Lao Airlines President Somphone Douangdara.