Laos Deputy PM Douangchay Phichit ‘dies in plane crash’

BBC News - Asia


Laos Deputy PM Douangchay Phichit ‘dies in plane crash’

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Rescue workers search an air force plane crash site near Nadee village, in Xiangkhouang province in the north of the country May 17, 2014
Rescue workers searched through the smoking wreckage

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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.

Laos Defence Minister Douangchay Phichit (2004 file photo)
Defence Minister Douangchay Phichit was reportedly travelling to an official ceremony

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.

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