17 Killed, Including 5 Top Laotian Leaders, in Military Plane Crash

By Mark Leberfinger, AccuWeather.com Staff Writer
May 18, 2014; 2:20 AM ET
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A military plane crashed early Saturday, local time, in northern Laos, killing at least 17 people including five top Laotian military and government leaders.

Laos Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Gen. Douangchay Phichit died in the crash along with Pany Yathortou, the president of the National Assembly of the Lao People's Democratic Republic, the Bangkok Post and the Phuket Wan website reported.

Other Laotian leaders reported killed were Public Security Minister Thongbanh Sengaphone, Vientiane governor Soukanh Mahalath and Cheuang Sombounkhanh, secretariat of the Party Central Committee and chairman of the Propaganda Training Committee, the Bangkok newspaper said.

Twelve other people were killed, the Tuoit Tre website in Vietnam reported.

There were conflicting reports as to how many were on the plane; as many as 20 people were on board. Three survivors were reported.

Lao News Agency, the country's state media, posted photos of the crash site on its website and said the crash was under investigation but didn't provide details about any casualties or survivors.

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The crash occurred about 6 a.m. local time, in Nadee, Xiangkhouang Province, as the Laos Air Force plane headed to the province for an official ceremony.

It doesn't appear that weather was a factor, although there had been rain in the area Friday night, local time, AccuWeather.com Senior Meteorologist Matt Rinde said.

"Visibility was good at 10 miles. There were clouds in the area," Rinde said.

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