A team of experts led by French plane manufacturer ATR has located the black box recorder of Flight QV301 which crashed into the Mekong River on October 16, according to the Lao News Agency (KPL).

The device has yet to be retrieved, however, as it is said to be trapped beneath powerful rapids, according to head of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport Santisouk Simmalavong.

"We have attempted to retrieve the blackbox for the last three days but so far we have been unsuccessful,"he said.

As many as 41 bodies and nine unidentified legs had been retrieved as of 20 October, according to the office head.

"Most of the bodies were found by local people,"said Deputy Minister to the Government Office Phetsakhone Luangaphay. Numerous pieces of debris have been found but unfortunately none of the larger parts of the plane have been recovered, except for a door.

The cause of the tragic plane crash in southern Laos will remain unknown until an ad hoc committee in charge of the investigation into the crash has made an announcement in writing, said Deputy Minister Phetsakhone Luangaphay on 18 October. "Without any conclusion by the ad hoc committee we cannot make any assumption regarding the cause of the plane crash incident,"he said.

Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong signed an order on 17 October on the establishment of the committee to investigate the civil aviation disaster in southern Laos. The committee sees Minister of Public Works and Transport Sommad Pholsena at its head.

A Lao Airlines press release dated 19 October said the Lao Airlines ATR 72-600 crashed in Champasack on 16 October, around an hour after it took off from Vientiane, resulting in the deaths of all 49 on board, including 44 passengers and five crew.

The ministry of Foreign Affairs has also sent a message to Lao embassies in over 30 countries worldwide asking them to assist relatives of the victims who have applied for an entry visa for the Lao PDR and informed all international checkpoints in the country to facilitate the entry of foreign rescue officials.

While the accident has clearly moved the entire nation, prompting a flood of status updates across all social networks, some users have posted shocking images, including graphic images of accident victims and airplane wreckage, most of them false.

"We have seen a relatively large number of people expressing their sympathies to the victims' families and relatives. When users post information, however, this can confuse or misinform relatives of the victims, as some of the information has been deliberately fabricated," said Director of E-governance Centre, Ministry of Post, Telecommunication and Communication Phonpasith Phitsamay.

"I would like to ask Facebook users to be more accountable and understand the reality of what is taking place. Making any changes to pictures will only serve to create more confusion," he told a press conference on 18 October.

Phonpasith Phitsamay asked social media users to find updated information regarding the plane crash at the Facebook account of Lao Airlines https://www.facebook.com/LaoAirlinesQV and that of Khamla Phommavanh (https://www.facebook.com/khamla.phommavanh?fref=ts) which is officially accredited by the Ministry of Public Works and Transport.-VNA