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Friday, 20 October, 2000, 15:15 GMT
Laos plane crash kills 8
Plane,  Laos
The plane was a Chinese-built Y-12 aircraft
The authorities in Laos have launched a rescue operation after a plane belonging to the state airline crashed into remote jungle-covered mountains in the north of the country.

At least eight people, some of them foreign travellers, are said to have died in the accident on Thursday near the provincial capital of Sam Neua.


German, Singaporean and South African nationals are reported to be among the dead, with up to nine people - four of them Indian construction workers - believed to have survived the crash.

The rescue operation was hindered by the terrain, although reports on Friday afternoon said that all the dead and injured had been flown back to the capital, Vientiane.

The Chinese-built Yun-12 turboprop aircraft went down in poor visibility during its final approach on a flight from the capital.

Sam Neua airport, like most in Laos, has no radar facilities or other electronic landing aids.

Safety concerns

The crash was the second to hit state-run Lao Aviation in four months and the fourth in the past decade.


It is not known whether aircraft maintenance procedures on internal flights are always properly observed

UK Foreign Office travel advice
In June this year 18 people died when a Russian-built MI-18 helicopter crashed in Xieng Khuang province.

The latest incident follows a warning by the Australian Government against flying on the company's ageing fleet of Chinese and Russian aircraft.

The US Embassy in Vientiane advises its employees to use the airline only if essential and has on previous occasions expressed "serious concerns" about its safety standards and maintenance operations.

Backpacker trail

The airline has rejected the criticism, saying its safety record is comparable to many of the world's major airlines.

Officials say they are planning to phase out the ageing aircraft and replace them with more advanced western models, but at present most airstrips in the more remote mountain areas are currently too short to take such aircraft.

In recent years Laos has become a popular destination on the backpacker tourist trail through South-East Asia

With road transport across the country often slow and uncomfortable, many visitors prefer to use the country's domestic airline network to travel around.

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