US offers condolences after Lao plane crash

The United States offered its condolences Sunday after a Lao military plane crash that killed five senior officials on board, including the defense minister of the secretive communist nation.

Washington: The United States offered its condolences Sunday after a Lao military plane crash that killed five senior officials on board, including the defense minister of the secretive communist nation.

The group was believed to be traveling to an official ceremony in the northeastern province of Xiangkhouang on an air force jet manufactured by Ukraine`s Antonov.

"We are deeply saddened to hear the news of a plane crash in Laos, which claimed the lives of Lao government officials and others on board the flight," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

"We extend our deepest condolences to the government of Laos," she added.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims and with all the people of Laos at this difficult time."
Lao Defense Minister Douangchay Phichit was among five senior officials killed in the crash, the permanent secretary of the Thai defense ministry, Nipat Thonglek, told AFP.

The foreign ministry in Bangkok said about 20 people were on board.

Official Lao news agency KPL said authorities were trying to rescue survivors.
"The cause of accident is under the investigation," it said.

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