Remembering The Pakse Plane Crash, Laos.
Some of the aircraft wreckage salvaged from the Mekong River in Pakse, Laos. (© unknown)
When I was writing BACK, I naively thought I could make Pakse mildly famous (or infamous depending on how you view events set in the town in my novel), but last year the town unfortunately made its own international headlines, when a Lao Airlines plane crashed into the Mekong River as it tried to land at Pakse airport in bad weather.
All 49 passengers on board were killed.
Today, as I stood on the Nippon bridge spanning the Mekong River, looking back at Pakse, another Lao Airlines turboprop plane cruised low overhead, continued upriver, then turned to land at Pakse airport.
It was a sobering moment, as I remembered the plane that had crashed in the river last year.
What really brought home the power of the Mekong, as I peered into the brown river from the bridge, was that most of the plane was actually recovered TWENTY-FIVE kilometers downstream from the crash site, having been washed downstream by the strong currents.
At the time of the crash, the river was swollen, fast-flowing and 12 or 13 metres deep, and visibility was almost zero underwater, making rescue and recovery diving a difficult and hazardous operation.
The rest of the plane remains unrecovered, along with some of the bodies of the victims.
How far downriver they may now be, is anyone’s guess.
Our new film, M.I.A. A Greater Evil. Set in the jungles of Laos and Vietnam, the film deals with the possible fate of US servicemen left behind after the US pulled out of the Vietnam War.
See the trailer for our new film, M.I.A. A Greater Evil.
For POWs left behind in Laos, see also:
© Peter Alan Lloyd
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