A Laos military plane crashed Saturday, killing the country’s defense minister and at least four others, including several top officials.
The plane crashed in a wooded area of Xiangkhoung province, in the northeastern part of the country, after leaving the the capital city of Vientiane early Saturday morning, the Associated Press reports. Thai officials said Defense Minister Douangchay Phichit and his wife were among those killed by the crash. Other victims include Minister of Public Security Thongbane Sengaphone and Vientiane Gov. Sukhan Mahalad.
About 18 people were onboard the plane — a Ukrainian-built AN-74TK-300 — which was carrying officials to a ceremony. Lao state news agency KPL reported that there were survivors, but it was not immediately clear how many. Reuters says there are unconfirmed reports indicating three people my have survived the crash.
Much of the information about the crash comes from neighboring Thailand because the Lao government is highly secretive. The authoritarian Lao People’s Revolutionary Party has ruled the country since 1975.