Laos defence minister dies in plane crash

A rescue worker makes his way past the wreckage of an air force plane at its crash site near Nadee village, in Xiang Khouang province in the north of the country, May 17, 2014.
At least 22 people including the defence minister were killed when a Lao air force plane crashed on Saturday, officials said. The victims included three members of the ruling Communist Party\’s central committee.
Deputy Prime Minister Major General Douangchay Phichit, who is also the defense minister, has been confirmed dead in the crash in Xiengkhouang province.
The Laotian news agency and the Thai foreign ministry said the minister and his wife had died in the crash.

Some reports say at least three people survived the crash, but few details of the deadly incident have been released.  The cause of the crash is not known.
The officials are believed to have been travelling to an official ceremony in Xiangkhouang.
Laos, a landlocked country of about seven million people, has an authoritarian communist one-party government and is one of Asia\’s poorest nations.
It has a poor air safety record. Last October a civilian airplane crashed into the Mekong river in bad weather, killing all 49 people on board.
In 1998, a Vietnamese military aircaraft crashed in Xiangkhouang. All passengers on board, including a senior Vietnamese general, were killed.
Officials say the Russian-built Antonov AN 74-300 was flying a group of officials and others in the communist country to take part in a ceremony marking the liberation of the Plain of Jars from the former Royal Lao government forces.
Source: Agencies
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