Laos Defense Chief Killed in Plane Crash

A Laotian plane crashed Saturday morning en route to an official ceremony, killed five people on board, including Laos defense minister Douangchay Phichit, his wife, and the defense ministry's permanent secretary. The Russian-made plane went down near one of Laos' main archeaological sites, the Plain of Jars. Douanchay was one of the highest-ranking members of the country's ruling communist party. The others on board were all senior officials, including the governor of the capital city, Vientiane.