The world has lost one of its best men after an aid worker and his father were among six Australians killed in a plane crash in Laos.
An entire Sydney family of four was also among the 44 passengers and five crew killed when Lao Airlines flight QV301 crashed into the Mekong River trying to land at Pakse airport in what the airline called extreme weather on Wednesday afternoon.
Bomb disposal expert Michael Creighton had been working in Laos for almost a year for Norwegian People's Aid's mine action program, and his father Gordon was visiting him to experience his son's humanitarian work.
Sydney tax agent Gavin Rhodes, 39, his wife Phoumalaysy (Lea) Rhodes, 35, their 17-month-old son Manfred and three-year-old daughter Jadesuda also perished in the crash early in their three week holiday to Mrs Rhodes' homeland.
Australia's ambassador to Laos, Lynda Worthaisong, said the crash site was difficult to access and it will be a slow process to recover bodies.
As of late Thursday, contacts close to the investigation said none of the bodies of the six Australians had been recovered.
A Rhodes family representative issued a statement asking the media to "respect their privacy at this difficult time".
The Creighton family said it had "lost a father, a husband, a son, a brother, a fiance and a best mate in one tragic circumstance".
"We're trying to come to terms with our loss. We request privacy to grieve at this devastating time," the family said in a statement.
Mr Creighton's fiancee Melanie Fuller said her loss will last forever.
"I have lost the love of my life, my heart, my soul, my future, my children, my world and myself..... For everyone wondering that is the loss I will live with forever. xxxx xxxx," she wrote on her Facebook page.
His ex-wife, former Tasmanian MP Kathryn Hay, was also devastated.
"The world's lost one of the best men ever to be born," she told the ABC.
"He travelled the world, assisting people in so many ways. He was so intelligent and dedicated to work."
The 42-year-old grew up in Glen Innes in northern NSW before joining the Australian army and then the United Nations.
He spent the past 20 years working on aid projects around the world, including in Afghanistan, Iraq, Switzerland, Cambodia and Africa, mostly in landmine clearance, and had been living in the Laotian capital Vientiane with Ms Fuller.
His father, retired schoolteacher Gordon Creighton, 71, was a prominent member of the Glen Innes community and served as president of the Glen Innes Magpies Rugby League Club.
Howard Whan, the club's current president, said the town was shattered on hearing the news.
"He was one of those bloke when anything was need in the community he was there," Mr Whan told AAP.
"He's been teaching football skills for about 30 years and there's a huge respect in the town for him.
"It's going to take a lot of replacing someone like that ... the mood's very sombre, everyone is just shattered."
Witnesses reported horrendous scenes at an emergency centre set up in a temple in Pakse.
"I saw lifeless bodies laying about and other lifeless bodies being brought in, some connected to IV drips," a foreign resident told the Bangkok Post.
"It's absolute horror."
Identification and recovery may take some time, DFAT says.
Lao Airlines flies an ATR-72 twin-engine turboprop plane on the 467km route from Vientiane to Pakse, and is understood not to have taken part in an International Air Transport Association (IATA) safety audit.
The Lao Aviation Authority said strong winds hit the small aircraft as it approached Pakse airport.French-Italian aircraft manufacturer ATR said the plane was new and had been delivered in March.