News / Asia

Defense Chief, Lao Officials Die in Crash

A rescue worker makes his way past the wreckage of an air force plane at its crash site near Nadee village, in Xiang Khouang province in the north of the country, May 17, 2014.
A rescue worker makes his way past the wreckage of an air force plane at its crash site near Nadee village, in Xiang Khouang province in the north of the country, May 17, 2014.
Ron Corben
The Lao defense minister was among more than a dozen people reported killed early Saturday when a military aircraft crashed in the northern part of the country. Analysts now see a major reshuffle within the governing Communist party.

Local television showed images of smoldering debris from the Ukrainian-made AN-74 aircraft after it crashed into a forest on approach to landing in the northern Laos province of Xiangkhouang, 470 kilometers from Vientiane.
 
FILE - Laotian Defense Minister, Douangchay Phichit, is seen during a visit to Moscow.FILE - Laotian Defense Minister, Douangchay Phichit, is seen during a visit to Moscow.
x
FILE - Laotian Defense Minister, Douangchay Phichit, is seen during a visit to Moscow.
FILE - Laotian Defense Minister, Douangchay Phichit, is seen during a visit to Moscow.
Defense Minister Major General Douangchay Phichit, who was also a deputy prime minister and member of the powerful inner circle politburo of the Lao Communist Party is among the 17 dead.

Other senior officials to perish include the minister of public security and the mayor of Vientiane, as well as family members who were traveling to attend a ceremony and reception.  

News of the tragedy was initially confirmed through the Thai Foreign Ministry which has long-standing close ties with neighboring Laos.

The tragedy comes just seven months after a Laos Airlines domestic aircraft crashed in southern Champasak province claiming the lives of 49 passengers and crew. The official report into the Lao Aviation ATR-72 turboprop crash is due to be released in the coming months.

Aviation concerns

Panitan Wattanayagorn, a political scientist at Chulalongkorn University, says the crash adds to concerns about aviation safety in Laos.

"Lao aviation safety has been problematic for many years," he noted. "And this just confirms another problem they are not able to fix or solve yet. Although in the past two years they have brought in external experts to help their aviation industry and also military air force (personnel). But still the problems persist."

Laos-based analysts told VOA the tragedy marks a major blow to the ruling Communist Party. Defense Minister Douangchay was also seen as having close ties with neighboring Vietnam. The Lao government has long juggled diplomatic and economic relations between China and Vietnam.

Major reshuffle expected

Carl Thayer, a defense analyst with Australia's University of New South Wales, says following the accident a major reshuffle within the government is expected.  He says Douangchay was a powerful player within the politburo.  

"[Douangchay] is one of the most important political elites in Laos. The military plays an extraordinarily powerful role in that country - both officially and then through the network of retired generals that inhabit the upper echelons of the party," Thayer explained. " Who becomes the defense minister comes from a very tiny circle anyway so it is going to be one of them that the insiders know so it's not going to be a surprise person that's going to change policy drastically."

But Thayer says while a reshuffle will take place, he does not foresee any instability within the closely knit Communist government that has ruled Laos since 1975. Nor, he says, will the already close working relations between Laos and neighbors Vietnam and China likely change.
 
  • Rescue personnel work at an air force plane crash site near Nadee village, Xiang Khouang province, Laos, May 17, 2014.
  • Rescue workers search an air force plane crash site near Nadee village, Xiang Khouang province, Laos, May 17, 2014.
  • A rescue worker makes his way past the wreckage of an air force plane at its crash site near Nadee village, in Xiang Khouang province, Laos, May 17, 2014.
  • A rescue worker makes his way through the debris at an air force plane crash site near Nadee village, Xiang Khouang province, Laos, May 17, 2014.
  • Rescue workers search an air force plane crash site near Nadee village, Xiang Khouang province, Laos, May 17, 2014.

You May Like

Video Snowstorm Sweeps Northeastern US

'This is nothing like we feared it would be,' New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says; he had warned storm could be one of worst in city history More

Millions of Displaced Nigerians Struggle With Daily Existence

Government acknowledges over a million people displaced in 2014 due to fight against Boko Haram insurgency More

Facebook: Internal Error to Blame for Outages

Temporary outage appeared to spill over and temporarily slow or block traffic to other major Internet sites More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: ya her from: sacamento
May 17, 2014 8:04 PM
These people killed thousands of Hmong in the last 40 years...thousands died in the plain of jars...a place of restless hmong souls crying out for revenge n righteousness. At least there is a god...taking these 5 five demons back to the original place where they set n still setting evil plots against the hmong. The will have no remorse.

In Response

by: xay from: Phnom Penh
May 17, 2014 11:03 PM
I agree with ya her. Its time for redemption for the many killings of the Hmongs by this government.

In Response

by: htinlinaung from: Yangon,Myanmar
May 17, 2014 10:19 PM
Dear friend,
It isn't evil plot. Engine damaged.


by: Shirleypittman from: tavaresfl
May 17, 2014 9:50 AM
Is this the plane TNA they has been looking for.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid