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 Indiana Controversy Points to Divergent Notions of Religious Freedom

Gay-marriage opponents are looking for ways to maintain their beliefs in face of changing culture, one writer says More

UNICEF Denies North Korean Measles Outbreak

Agency dismisses Russian media report after government, WHO assurances More

Turkey Seen Taking Harder Stance Against Militant Kurds

Stance comes as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is being seen as moving closer to generals 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.
Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedomi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 01, 2015 1:41 AM
Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Welcome Buhari's Return to Power

Crowds of jubilant Nigerians nationwide have celebrated the return to power of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. The retired army general won this year's presidential election with more than 2 million votes more than incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari's supporters hope he can strengthen the country's economy and security once he takes office in late May. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Gamma Ray Observatory to Open Soon in Mexico

American and Mexican scientists have completed construction of the world's largest gamma ray observatory, situated high in central Mexico’s Sierra Negra Mountain. The observatory's huge array of water-based detectors will soon start discovering secrets about black holes and supernovas. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

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