Report says crash site of missing Lao helicopter found

Jul 29, 2015, 6:24 AM

BANGKOK (AP) — Search teams in Laos have located the crash site of a Soviet-made Mi-7 Lao military helicopter that went missing this week with 23 people on board, the Southeast Asian country’s state-run news agency reported Wednesday.

The aircraft crashed Monday in the Thasi area, near the border between Borikhamxay and Xaysomboun provinces, the Lao News Agency said. The brief report, citing the Ministry of National Defense, did not say anything about the fate of the four crew members and 19 passengers who were aboard the helicopter, adding only that “many details remain unknown.”

The ministry had said Tuesday that the aircraft had an “accident” and lost communications with the aviation control center soon after it took off from the capital, Vientiane, on Monday afternoon. It said airborne access to the scene of the accident was impossible due to bad weather, and that only ground search efforts were being conducted.

The ministry’s Tuesday announcement said the helicopter was en route to Xiengkhuang and Houaphanh provinces in the northeast and the east of the country.

The passengers aboard the Mi-7 have not been publicly identified.

The country’s defense and public security ministers, and the governor of Vientiane, were among at least 17 people killed a year ago when a Ukrainian-made Antonov AN-74 plane operated by the military crashed on its approach to the airport in Xiengkhuang.

In 2013, a Lao Airlines ATR-72 turboprop crashed during a heavy storm as it approached Pakse Airport in southern Laos, killing all 49 people on board.

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Report says crash site of missing Lao helicopter found