Recovery efforts in the Lao Airlines crash has been slow because of the bad weather and lack of equipment, leaving several bodies and the turboprop's flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder yet to be retrieved.
As of 21 October, 41 bodies have been found. There were five crew and 44 passengers on board flight QV301 when it crashed into the Mekong River on 16 October.
The lack of sonar and other equipment, coupled with the torrential rain and the murky waters of the river have complicated investigators and rescuers' work.
Lao Airlines has released details of its flight crew and identified the captain as 57-year-old Yong Som, who had accumulated 3,200 flight hours on the ATR 72 before the crash. He came from a military background and had worked with the Royal Cambodian Air Force and the VIP squadron at the ministry of defence.
The first officer meanwhile is 22-year-old Soulisack Hongvanthong who obtained his training in France and had accumulated 110 hours on the ATR 72.
Local media reports say that air traffic control at Pakse airport had told the Lao Airlines pilots to change course shortly before it crashed into the Mekong River, as the plane was making its approach to land in bad weather. ATR also disclosed official sources at the carrier saying the aircraft “ran into extreme bad weather conditions” before crashing into the Mekong River.
Lao Airlines would only say it is still working to determine the cause of the crash, while Lao's department of civil aviation could not be contacted.
The carrier says that the ATR 72-600, registered RDPL-34233, had accumulated 758 flight hours before the fatal crash. The aircraft, which was delivered new to the airline only this March, underwent A checks in September.