Laos loses defence minister in crash

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Vientiane -

Cremation ceremonies were scheduled on Monday for the four prominent Lao government officials who died in a plane crash at the weekend, state media reports said.

Funeral rites were planned for Defence Minister Duangchay Phichit, Public Security Minister Thongban Seng-Aphone, Head of the Propaganda of the Lao communist party's Central Committee Chuang Sombounkhan and Vientiane Mayor Sukan Mahalat, the Vientiane Times reported.

The four senior members of the Lao communist party were among the 14 victims of a Lao Air Force AN-74 TK-300 aircraft crash on Saturday.

“The plane crashed during landing and was around two kilometres away from Xieng Khuang airport in Nadee village, Pek district, Xieng Khuang province,” the Vientiane Times reported.

The cause of the accident was under investigation. Three survivors of the crash were transferred to Vientiane Hospital on Saturday, but their condition was unknown, the government mouthpiece reported.

The plane was taking the high ranking officials to Xieng Khuang, site of the Plain of Jars tourist attraction in north-east Laos, to commemorate the 55th anniversary of the victory of the second battalion over royalist forces.

Laos has been under communist rule since 1975. - Sapa-dpa

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