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Laos Defence Minister and Deputy PM Douangchay Phichit has reportedly been killed along with other senior officials in a military plane crash.
The aircraft came down in the northern province of Xiangkhouang, nearly 500km (311 miles) from the capital Vientiane where its journey began.
The Laotian news agency and the Thai foreign ministry said the minister and his wife had died in the crash.
Up to 20 people were on board, including the governor of Vientiane.
The officials are believed to have been travelling to an official ceremony in Xiangkhouang.
The official Laos news agency KPL said the plane that went down was an Antonov AN- 74TK-300 plane operated by the Laos air force.
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.
From other news sites
ABC Online: Five dead in Laos plane crash
The Statesman: Five Lao officials killed in plane crash: Thailand
Yahoo! UK and Ireland: Minister among five Lao officials killed in plane crash
RTE Online: Laos defence minister killed in plane crash
South China Morning Post*: Five senior Lao officials including defence minister killed in plane crash