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

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  • Rescue workers search an air force plane crash site near Nadee village, in Xiang Khouang province in the north of the country May 17, 2014. The Laotian air force plane with at least 14 people on board crashed on Saturday, a defence ministry source said, a
    Rescue workers search an air force plane crash site near Nadee village, in Xiang Khouang province in the north of the country May 17, 2014. The Laotian air force plane with at least 14 people on board crashed on Saturday, a defence ministry source said, and a witness at the site said the defence minister was among the dead. REUTERS/Stringer REUTERS/Stringer
  • Rescue workers search an air force plane crash site near Nadee village, in Xiang Khouang province in the north of the country May 17, 2014. The Laos air force plane with 14 people on board, including the defence minister, has crashed in the north of the S
    Rescue workers search an air force plane crash site near Nadee village, in Xiang Khouang province in the north of the country May 17, 2014. The Laos air force plane with 14 people on board, including the defence minister, has crashed in the north of the Southeast Asian country, a Laos defence ministry source said on Saturday. REUTERS/Stringer REUTERS/Stringer
  • Rescue workers search an air force plane crash site near Nadee village, in Xiang Khouang province in the north of the country May 17, 2014. The Laos air force plane with 14 people on board, including the defence minister, has crashed in the north of the S
    Rescue workers search an air force plane crash site near Nadee village, in Xiang Khouang province in the north of the country May 17, 2014. The Laos air force plane with 14 people on board, including the defence minister, has crashed in the north of the Southeast Asian country, a Laos defence ministry source said on Saturday. REUTERS/Stringer REUTERS/Stringer
  • An officer takes pictures with his mobile phone at an air force plane crash site near Nadee village, in Xiang Khouang province in the north of the country May 17, 2014. The Laos air force plane with 14 people on board, including the defence minister, has
    An officer takes pictures with his mobile phone at an air force plane crash site near Nadee village, in Xiang Khouang province in the north of the country May 17, 2014. The Laos air force plane with 14 people on board, including the defence minister, has crashed in the north of the Southeast Asian country, a Laos defence ministry source said on Saturday. REUTERS/Stringer REUTERS/Stringer
  • 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. The Laos air force plane with 14 people on board, including the defense ministe
    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. The Laos air force plane with 14 people on board, including the defense minister, has crashed in the north of the Southeast Asian country, a Laos defense ministry source said on Saturday. REUTERS/Stringer REUTERS/Stringer
  • Rescue workers search an air force plane crash site near Nadee village, in Xiang Khouang province in the north of the country May 17, 2014. The Laotian air force plane with at least 14 people on board crashed on Saturday, a defence ministry source said, a
    Rescue workers search an air force plane crash site near Nadee village, in Xiang Khouang province in the north of the country May 17, 2014. The Laotian air force plane with at least 14 people on board crashed on Saturday, a defence ministry source said, and a witness at the site said the defence minister was among the dead. REUTERS/Stringer REUTERS/Stringer
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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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