Military Helicopter Carrying 19 Passengers, Four Crew ‘Missing’ in Laos

2015-07-28
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A Laotian soldier watches a Soviet-made MI-17 helicopter prepare to land in Bolikhamsai province, in a file photo.
A Laotian soldier watches a Soviet-made MI-17 helicopter prepare to land in Bolikhamsai province, in a file photo.
AFP

A military transport helicopter carrying 19 passengers and four crew members to Houaphan province in northern Laos is missing more than 36 hours after it departed an airport in the capital Vientiane, an Air Force official said Tuesday.

Air traffic control in Vientiane lost contact with the MI-17 helicopter—registration number RDPL-34062—at 1:10 p.m. local time on July 27, shortly after it departed Wattay International Airport, heading for Houaphan, an official with Division 703 of the Lao Air Force told RFA’s Lao Service.

“We cannot confirm whether the aircraft has crashed or had to execute an emergency landing, because we have no proof at this time,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“Higher level commanders will not allow us to confirm anything,” he said.

State media has not reported the incident and no other officials were able to confirm that the helicopter was missing when contacted by RFA.

The identities of the passengers and crew members were not immediately known.

Aircraft in impoverished Laos are mostly outdated, and the country has suffered at least two major air disasters within the last two years.

On May 17 last year, a Ukrainian-made Antonov AN-74TK-300 aircraft owned by the Lao military crashed while approaching an airport in Xiengkhuang, killing 17 passengers, including Lao Deputy Prime Minister Douangchay Phichit, Minister of Public Security Thongbanh Sengaphone, and two other high-ranking officials.

The group was en route to attend the 55th anniversary of “strategic gains” made by the Lao military during the Indochina War, according to state media.

The crash, which was attributed to a technical error by the pilot, is the second deadliest air disaster in Lao history, after the crash of Lao Airlines Flight 301 seven months earlier.

On Oct. 16, 2013, Flight 301—an ATR-72 turboprop—plunged into the Mekong River during bad weather as it approached Pakse Airport in southern Laos’s Champasak province, killing all 49 passengers.

Six Australians, seven French, five Thai, three South Koreans, two Vietnamese, as well as passengers from China, Myanmar, Taiwan and the U.S. were killed in the crash, which was also attributed to pilot error.

Reported by RFA’s Lao Service. Translated by Ounkeo Souksavanh. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.

Comments (8)
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GNR. Thongdi

from Vangvieng, Vientiane Province

To all the world, Human right/ Amnesty International and the Lao people, the Lao Limitary Helicopter, the both side of tanks are the spray Chemical that lao military need to spary all over the Hmong Resistants area in Phoubia, Special Zone ( Xaisomboun Province ) Lao military had used Chemical to kill the Hmong Civilians in Phou Bia it cause Diarrhea / Blind Eyes and then easy to die . Thise Helicopters MI- 17 was carried an Lao patien Officials from Lao Military Hospital 103 Vientiane to Houa pHan but it still need to fly around Phoubia and spray some Chemical to Hmong Chao Fa first then will fly direct to the destination that it would be shot down.

Aug 11, 2015 11:38 AM

LAONOR

WHO THE NEXT GO OVER XIENGKHOUANG AGAIN

Aug 10, 2015 08:38 AM

LAO OUTSIDER

from USA

I think those people in the aircraft are not lao people they are all lao killers. this is just the beginning, God will bring many more of these killers to hell to face the judge, not heaven.

Aug 03, 2015 11:20 AM

Laotiane Over Sea

from New York

Since the helicopter is military, I think "Chao Fa" shoot it down. A payback for the "Lao deng" regime for mistreatment of unarmed civilians living in the jungle of Phu Bai. Lao people should turn against the Lao communist regime in Lao and return the country to "Free Lao". Lao needs free market, free trade, businessmen and women, education, investment, banking industries, equal opportunity, protect the natural resources, stop cutting down natural hardwood trees and selling to the Vietnamese and Chinese.

Aug 02, 2015 01:51 PM

KHALA

from THATLOUANG

THE TOO OLD USED HELICOPTER THAT GOT FROM VIETNAM THAT MADE FROM SOVIET UNION IN THE EARLIER 1975 SHOULD BE DOWNED FOR ONE DAY. WHY THE LAO MILITARY COULD NOT TAKE THE NEW HELICOPTER FROM THAILAND. THAI HELICOPTERS ARE VERY SAFETY. OTHERWISE, MAYBE THE HMONG RESISTANT IN THE PHOUBIA SHOT DOWN YOUR HELICOPTER

Jul 31, 2015 02:10 PM

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