Cambodian Pilot Involved in Lao Airlines Crash That Killed 49

The pilot of the Lao Airlines plane that crashed Wednesday killing all 44 passengers and five crew members on board was a 50-year-old Cambodian pilot, an official of the State Secretariat for Civil Aviation (SSCA) in Phnom Penh said Thursday.

According to international reports, the ATR-72 turboprop plane was flying in inclement weather before it crashed into the Mekong River at about 4:10 p.m. It was flying from the Lao capital of Vientiane and crashed about 8 km short of the airport in Pakse, it’s destination.

Long Cheng, chief of Cabinet for SSCA Secretary of State Mao Havannall, confirmed that the man who piloted the doomed flight was 50-year-old Yung Sam.

“ATR-72 Lao Airlines was a domestic flight that crashed and killed all its passengers, including our Cambodian pilot, Yung Sam,” Mr. Cheng said. “He applied to work with Lao Airlines about six months ago.”

Mr. Cheng said he still did not have information about the cause of the crash, adding that SSCA officials will request permission today to go to Laos.

“We will ask the high-ranking officer of our government for permission to go down to investigate the case,” he said.

Reuters reported yesterday that stormy weather from the tail end of Typhoon Nari, which hit Vietnam this week, could have caused the crash, according to an airline official. A passenger list showed that the nationalities of the 44 passengers included 17 Laotians, five Australians, seven French, five Thais, three Koreans, two Vietnamese and one person each from the U.S., Canada, China, Malaysia and Taiwan.

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