Laos Plane Crash: Defence Minister Among 16 Dead (PHOTOS)

By Esther Tanquintic-Misa
May 19, 2014 12:28 PM EST

Laos Plane Crash: Defence Minister Among 16 Dead (PHOTOS)

A plane carrying five top government officials of Laos crashed over the weekend. A total of 16 died in the accident.


Among the dead were Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Douangchay Phichit, Minister of Public Security Thongbanh Sengaphone, the Communist Party's propaganda chief Cheuang Sombounkhanh and Vientiane Mayor Soukanh Mahalath.


The senior Lao officials were onboard a Ukrainian-made Antonov AN-74TK-300 aircraft to attend a commemoration ceremony in Xiengkhuang province on Saturday morning. The airliner crashed while approaching Xiangkhoung airport.


"The cause of the accident is under investigation by concerned authorities," the official Lao news agency KPL said. The crash site in Nadee village, Paek district of Xiengkhuang Province is located in an area bordering northwestern Vietnam.


The plane was carrying 18 passengers on board, including Mr Phichit's wife, who also died.


The party was going to attend the 55th anniversary of the country's 2nd Battalion's victory over royalist forces at the Plain of Jars.


Nipat Thonglek, Thai Defense Ministry's permanent secretary, told The Wall Street Journal the plane lost control as it descended, eventually crashing in a forest.


"The latest accident may lead to changes within the structure of the ruling party, and the government, as some senior and older members with alleged corruption and family issues may be replaced with younger people whose reputation and background are better," Panitan Wattanayagorn, a lecturer in international relations at Chulalongkorn University in Thailand, said.


Prof Panitan does not expect the accident however to render serious impact on the ruling party.





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