Lao air crash kills 16, one survives

Vientiane – A military aircraft carrying several Lao high-ranking officials among others crashed in Laos’ northeastern province of Xieng Khouang Saturday morning, killing 16 people while one person survived.

It is confirmed that 17 people were onboard the aircraft, with 11 passengers and 6 crew members.

High-ranking officials confirmed dead in the mishap include Minister of Defense Douangchay Phichit, who was also Deputy Prime Minister and a member of the Politburo.

The accident also killed Minister of Public Security Thongbanh Sengaphone, Secretariat of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party’s Central Committee and Head of the Propaganda Training Committee Cheuang Sombounkhanh, and Mayor of Vientiane Soukanh Mahalath.

Sources from Lao Defense Ministry told Xinhua that the sole survivor is confirmed to be a nurse. She was pulled from the wreckage along with two others who later succumbed to injuries.

The aircraft was crashed during landing, several kilometers away from destination airport in Xieng Khouang province, according to Lao National Television.

Photos taken from the accident site showed that the aircraft crashed in a jungle area and was severely damaged, leaving a large hole and burnt debris.

A witness told Xinhua that the crash site is in a mountainous area and the weather was clear at the time of the accident, adding that army forces rushed to the site and blockaded the area.Rescue team was deployed right after the incident.

The Prime Minister’s Office has issued an announcement that the AN -74TK300 aircraft of the Lao air force has crashed at 7:00 am local time on Saturday in Nadee village, Paek district of Xiengkouang province, reported Lao state-run news agency KPL, adding that the cause of the accident is under investigation.

A press conference over the incident was expected to be held by Lao authorities on Saturday afternoon, but it was finally canceled.

The mourning of the victims began in the Lao capital Saturday evening.

The aircraft carried Lao representatives who were en route to attend an event to commemorate the creation of the Lao army’s 2nd Division to be held in Xieng Khouang province on Sunday.

Relevant celebrating activities of the event are canceled after the incident. Source: Xinhua

Photo:  Xieng Khouang province