Singapore PM conveys condolences after plane crash in Laos

SINGAPORE Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has conveyed his condolences to his Laotian counterpart after a military plane crashed on Saturday morning and killed the Lao defence minister.

"I was shocked to learn of the tragic plane crash in Xieng Khouang province this morning," the Singapore leader wrote in his letter to Mr Thongsing Thammavong.

"It is unfortunate that a trip to celebrate a Lao People’s Army anniversary ended up taking the lives of so many Lao leaders and officials," he added, offering his condolences to the families of the victims.

Thai authorities told the AFP that the crash of the plane in north-east Laos killed five senior officials on board, including Lao defence minister Douangchay Phichit.

The group was believed to be travelling on an air force jet manufactured by Ukraine’s Antonov.

China's state media Xinhua reported that 16 people died in the incident with one survivor. The sole survivor was reportedly a nurse who was pulled from the wreckage along with two others who later died.