A Laotian air force plane with at least 14 people on board crashed yesterday, a defence ministry source said.

A witness at the site said Laos defence minister and deputy prime minister Douangchay Phichit was among the dead.

The aircraft came down in the northern province of Xiangkhouang, about 300 miles from the capital, Vientiane, where its journey began.

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The plane was an Antonov AN- 74TK-300 operated by the Laos air force. The minister's wife and other senior officials, including the Vientiane governor, were on board.