The Ministry of Public Works and Transport, which operates the airline as a state enterprise, said 44 passengers and five crew members were aboard flight QV301 from the Lao capital, Vientiane, to Pakse in the country's south. Earlier reports had said there were 39 passengers on board. (Agencies)
"Upon preparing to land at Pakse Airport the aircraft ran into extreme bad weather conditions and was reportedly crashed into the Mekong River," the ministry said in a statement. It said there was no word of survivors. The airline flies an ATR-72 twin-engine turboprop plane on the 467-kilometer (290-mile) route.
Thai Foreign Ministry spokesman Sek Wannamethee said his country's embassy in Vientiane was informed that the plane crashed 7-8 kilometers (4-5 miles) from the airport at Pakse.
A passenger manifest faxed 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.
The Lao government said the airline "is taking all necessary steps to coordinate and dispatch all rescue units to the accident site in the hope of finding survivors."
It said the crash is being investigated and the airline hoped to announce its findings tomorrow. A Laos Airlines employee contacted by phone at Vientiane's Wattay airport said a news conference would be held on Thursday.
Sydney family of 4 among passengers
A Sydney family of four and an Australian aid worker and his father were among those believed killed in a plane crash in Laos.
Relatives on Wednesday released a photograph of 39-year-old tax consultant Gavin Rhodes, his 35-year-old wife Phoumalaysy Rhodes and their children Jadesuda, aged 3, and 17-month-old Manfred.
Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said in a statement that six Australians were on board and no survivors were expected. A passenger manifest from the airline listed five Australians and identified Jadesuda Rhodes as Lao. The Rhodes family did not immediately confirm her nationality or say whether she held dual citizenship.
DFAT declined to explain the discrepancy. The other two Australians on board were Vientiane-based Michael Creighton, 42, and his 71-year-old father Gordon Bruce Creighton, from the New South Wales state town of Glen Innes, the Creighton family said in a statement.
Michael Creighton had been an operations manager at Norwegian People's Aid's mine action program, and lived in Laos with his fiancee, Melanie, who was not on the plane.
Michael Creighton had been in the Australian Defence Force and later worked for the United Nations. He spent the past 20 years doing humanitarian work, from Afghanistan to Iraq to Switzerland to Cambodia.
Gordon Creighton, a retired teacher, was visiting his son in Laos. "We have lost a father, a husband, a son, a brother, a fiance and a best mate in one tragic circumstance and are trying to come to terms with our loss," the family said in a statement.
The Ministry of Public Works and Transport, which operates the airline as a state enterprise, said 44 passengers and five crew members were aboard flight QV301 from the Lao capital, Vientiane, to Pakse in the country's south. Earlier reports had said there were 39 passengers on board.