A plane crash in Laos killed at least five people on Saturday, including Defense Minister Douangchay Phichit and his wife.
The plane left Vientiane, Laos’ capital, on Saturday morning and was headed to a ceremony in Xiangkhoung province; also killed were Minister of Public Security Thongbane Sengaphone and Vientiane Gov. Sukhan Mahalad. Officials say about 20 people were on board but have not released any other names or whether there may have been survivors.
While it’s not clear what these sudden deaths will mean for Laos, some say there may be significant changes coming, as the victims were top-ranking government officials with a lot of power.
“It seems inevitable that the deaths of these officials, especially the two ministers, will have an impact on the power structure of the party and in Laos more generally,” said Simon Creak, a historian at Japan’s Kyoto University.
Authorities have not released a cause for the crash but say it occurred in a heavily wooded area.
Foreign Secretary William Hague said released a statement regarding the crash, leaving his sympathies with the families of the victims.
“I am deeply saddened to hear of the tragic crash of a Lao Air Force plane on 17 May in which four senior Lao government figures, and a number of others, have been killed, including Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for National Defence, Lt. General Douangchay Phichit, Public Security Minister, Thongban Saengphone, Mayor of Vientiane, Soukan Mahalat and Minister of the Government Office and Party Propaganda Chief, Chuang Sombounkham. “My deepest sympathies are with the Lao government, the families and friends of the deceased, and the Lao people at this difficult time.”
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