Pakse, Laos — The search team has located the black box of the Laos Airlines plane that crashed into the Mekong River near Pakse on October 16, said Laos Minister for Public Works and Transport Sommat Phonsena on Monday.
He said frogmen were now trying to retrieve it from the river. He also thanked Thai police and military personnel for helping in the recovery mission.
The Thai soldiers would stop work today and withdraw from Pakse tomorrow, said Pol Maj Gen Wallop Raksanoh, chief of the Thai military search team, as Laos authorities have said they are capable of concluding the search for bodies and the plane’s fuselage.
Pol Gen Charumporn Suramanee, an adviser to the Royal Thai Police Office and chief of Thailand’s Disaster Victims Identification (DIV) team, said 42 bodies and 17 body parts have been recovered.
Sixteen of the bodies have been identified, including two of the Thai victims – Phakkawat Atiratanachai and Kanueng Chartkasemchai, he said.
He also said 37 samples of human remains have been sent to Bangkok for DNA tests, and that more bodies would soon be identified.
The bodies of six more victims were recovered on Monday afternoon but not yet identified.
A Laos government authority said the airline would initially pay US$5,000 to the relatives of each of the Thai victims and provide air transport to deliver their bodies to their hometowns in Thailand, according to a Bangkok Post report.