Laos – ATR72-600 Accident

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Bangkok: Rescue teams remain hopeful of finding two black boxes or flight data recorders on the Lao Airlines plane that crashed into the Mekong River in southern Laos last week, killing 49 people including six Australians.

The two boxes were not among the main wreckage of the plane that was winched to the surface late on Tuesday, six days after the worst air crash in Laos’ history.

Divers are using their feet and hands to feel for the box on the bottom of the fast flowing river near the city of Pakse, the main city in southern Laos.

At least one of the boxes attached to the turbo-prop’s tailsection is giving off a signal but efforts to locate it have so far failed.

‘‘If the black box recorders were still attached to the tail then they will be easier to find but if they broke off then the task will be more difficult,’’ said Yakua Lopangkao, director-general of Laos’ Department of Civil Aviation.

Investigators say the boxes will be crucial to establishing why the ATR-72 twin engine plane hit tree tops, skidded on ground and plunged into the river as it approached Pakse airport in extreme weather.

The boxes have batteries that can last up to a month. ‘We will keep searching,’’ said Mr Yakua.

Forty-three bodies have been recovered and 26 of them have been identified and returned to their families.

The victims include western Sydney family of Gavin Rhodes, his wife Phoumalaysy (Lea),their daughter Jadesuda, 3, and 17-month-old Manfred, whose body was found with four other victims 30 kilometers downstream last Friday.

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Also killed were northern New South Wales father and son Michael and Gordon Creighton.

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Source:  AP

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