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Plane carrying Laotian government officials crashes near Vietnam

By Ben Brumfield and Kocha Olarn, CNN
updated 2:35 AM EDT, Sat May 17, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The crash occurred in a province in the north, near Vietnam
  • Thai military official: 18 people were on board, including the Laotian defense minister
  • The group was traveling to take part in the memorial celebration

Bangkok, Thailand (CNN) -- A plane carrying senior government officials from Laos crashed Saturday in a province bordering Vietnam, authorities said.

The country's National Assembly President, Pany Yathotou, was on board the Laos air force plane, which was carrying 18 people, according to Lt. Gen. Nipat Thonglek, a Thai defense spokesman.

Yathotou is the first woman to hold that high office. Other high ranking officials were on board, including the Laotian defense minister, who was traveling with his wife, the spokesman said.

A regional governor was also on board the plane, which crashed in Xiangkhouang province north of Laos.

The group was traveling to take part in the memorial celebration of a historic battle.

A Thai television station showed photos of a jungle site in flames and victims in military uniforms.

In October, a Laos Airlines propeller plane flight crashed near the Mekong River, killing all 49 on board, after flying through remnants of Typhoon Nari.

CNN's Millicent Smith contributed to this report

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