Plane Crash In Laos Kills Several Top Officials

The plane reportedly was part of the Laos air force and was carrying 20 people. The crash was reported by Thai officials.

Updated: May 17, 3 p.m. PT

AP Photo/Lao National TV via AP Video

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.

Laotian Defense Minister Douangchay Phichit. AP

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.

This image shows the wreckage of a Lao air force plane which crashed in a forested area of Xiangkhoung province on May 17. AP Photo/Lao National TV via AP Video

The crash comes just eight months after 49 people were killed in another plane crash in southern Laos. In that incident, a Lao Airlines ATR-72 turboprop crashed in a heavy storm.

This is a developing story. Check back later for updates and follow BuzzFeed News on Twitter.

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