Six Australians killed as 'extreme' weather hits Lao plane

A LAO Airlines plane carrying 49 people, from the capital Vientiane to the southern town of Pakse has crashed killing all on board, officials said. As many as six Australians are feared dead in the crash.

A passenger list released by the airline included five from Thailand, five from Australia, three from Korea, seven from France, one from the US, one from China, one from Taiwan, one from Canada and two from Vietnam.

But the Department of Foreign Affairs in Canberra says six Australians are thought to have been aboard  flight QV301.

News reports this morning said there was a family of four, an aid worker, and an infant among the Australians. There were uncofirmed reports an infant was among the dead.

A DFAT spokesman says the Australian embassy has been told not to expect any survivors.

"We understand there were six Australians listed as boarding a Lao Airlines flight from Vientiane to Pakse that crashed," the spokesman said.

State-owned Lao Airlines issued a statement via its Facebook page saying the plane ran into "extreme bad weather conditions" and crashed at 4:00pm (local time).

The ABC reports that pictures on Thai television showed a small plane, half submerged in the river, with what appeared to be bodies lying on the banks.

The statement from the airline said rescue units had been sent to the scene in the hope of finding survivors and it would be informing relatives of the passengers.

It said it was investigating the cause of the crash.

The QV301 flight set off from Vientiane on time at 2:45pm (local time) and was supposed to arrive in Paske just over an hour later, but crashed as it prepared to land.

A spokesman from aircraft manufacturer ATR, in France, said the flight was one of its twin-engine turboprop ATR-72 planes, of which the airline has a fleet of six.