- 14 Laos plane crash victims identified
- Question raised in ex-professor’s sex-for-grades sentence appeal
- Cops search for second man involved in murder of model
PAKSE, Laos: Lao Airlines on Saturday said it had identified almost half of the 30 bodies so far recovered after a plane carrying dozens of people, many of them foreign travellers, plunged into the Mekong River.
In the country's deadliest known air disaster, all those on board died when the Lao Airlines turboprop ATR-72 plunged into the swollen waters in stormy weather on Wednesday near Pakse airport in Champasak province.
More than half of the 49 passengers and crew were foreigners from 10 countries.
Lao Airlines said that its team, in cooperation with Thai rescuers, investigators from the French-Italian aircraft manufacturer and local authorities, had identified 14 of the 30 bodies found so far.
Two Australian passengers, the Cambodian captain and several members of the crew were among those named so far.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the families affected by this terrible tragedy," the carrier said in a statement.
Volunteers have battled strong currents in their search for bodies from the plane, most of which has sunk and is believed to have broken up.
In some cases, rescue teams have plucked the dead from turbulent waters many miles from the crash site.
Families of those identified have already begun holding funerals for their loved ones.
"This is the biggest loss in my life," Souksamone Phommasone told AFP as he prepared to cremate his wife Chinda.
She died along with her mother and father as they returned in the ill-fated aircraft from a visit to see the couple's daughter in Vientiane.
Thailand has said the recovery operation is being led by local authorities with the support of its navy, air force and volunteer rescue teams.
Lao Airlines said the aircraft hit "extreme" bad weather while witnesses described seeing the plane buffeted by strong winds caused by tropical storm Nari.
According to an updated passenger list from the airline, there were 16 Laotians, seven French travellers, six Australians, five Thais, three South Koreans, three Vietnamese, and one national each from the United States, Malaysia, China and Taiwan.
Aircraft manufacturer ATR said the twin-engine turboprop aircraft was new and had been delivered in March.
Founded in 1976, Lao Airlines serves domestic airports and destinations in China, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.
Impoverished Laos, a one-party communist state, has seen 29 fatal air accidents since the 1950s, according to the Aviation Safety Network.
Previously its worst air disaster was in 1954 when 47 people died in an Air Vietnam crash near Pakse, the organisation said. -AFP
THE question of whether former law professor Tey Tsun Hang's actions amounted to corruption or simply exploitation of his former student Darinne Ko was raised by High Court Justice Woo Bih Li on the second day of Tey's appeal.
Tey, 42, got out of jail on Oct 5, after serving a five-month sentence for corruptly obtaining gifts and sex from Ko. But he is appealing against his conviction and sentence. He has been absent from the hearing.
Justice Woo questioned if Tey was corrupt, if all he did was give Ko the false impression that he loved her.
He asked: "Even if (Tey) was exploiting (Ko) out of greed and lust, does that make it corruption?"
In response, Deputy Public Prosecutor Andre Jumabhoy said the terms exploitation and corruption overlapped.
He noted the corrupt intent was demonstrated by Tey's conduct and state of mind.
He also did not declare the gifts to his employer, the National University of Singapore, breaching its code of conduct.
DPP Jumabhoy noted that his statements to anti-graft officers also said he was corrupt.
Earlier in the day, Tey's lawyer, Peter Low, had pressed on in his attempt to challenge the admissibility of six statements given by his client to officers of the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau.
Low argued his client had been in "a fragile state of mind" during this period.
He referred to evidence given by psychiatrist Tommy Tan that Tey exhibited symptoms of "acute stress reaction" when he saw him last year.
But DPP Jumabhoy argued that another psychiatrist, Dr Michael Yong, had testified Tey was able to respond appropriately and could understand what was said to him.
He also rebutted Low's argument, raised on Wednesday, that Tey had allegedly been subject to threats and badgering by anti-graft officers. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network
POLICE in Pakistan are looking for a second man believed to have been involved in the murder of Singapore-based model Fehmina Chaudhry.
The man – who investigators say strangled the 27-year-old with a rope – was in a car with Chaudhry and real estate broker Muaz Waqar on the day she was killed.
The three of them were on the way to see the land she had bought from Waqar for three million Pakistani rupees (RM89,090), paid for in the form of gold.
Waqar, who has been arrested, has already admitted to the murder.
"They drove for two hours, and took her to a desolate place," investigating officer Javed Awan said.
"When they stopped, the other man took a rope and strangled Chaudhry from behind the passenger seat. Then they drove a few more kilometres and dumped her body in a drain."
He added that police know the man's identity and are tracking him down.
The body of the pageant winner was found in a drain in Pakistan's capital Islamabad on Monday.
Police say telephone records show contact between Chaudhry and Waqar, and there are photographs of them on his Facebook page. It is believed he visited her at her hotel. These connections led police to Waqar, said officer Awan.
Chaudhry went missing on Thursday last week after flying to Pakistan to negotiate a land deal with Waqar. Chaudhry's mother Nashiba Taskeen reported her missing two days later.
When Waqar seemed unable to carry out his part of the deal, Chaudhry asked for her payment back.
He then offered her a modelling deal with Pepsi worth 20 million Pakistani rupees.
She had been planning to set up a fashion school.
It is believed that she moved to Singapore with her husband a few years ago, but they divorced about 12 months ago.
The catwalk fashion model and beauty pageant judge came from a "very good" family in Karachi, Pakistan, and married at the age of 18.
Those who knew Chaudhry said she had a zest for life and was always ready to help her friends.
She had been working hard to make it in Bollywood before she was murdered, they said. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network
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