May 26, Colombo: Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has expressed shock and sadness over the untimely demise of the Defense Minister and other high level officials of the Government of Laos, in a tragic military plane crash on Saturday 17 May 2014.
President Rajapaksa, in a message to his Laotian counterpart, President Choummaly Sayasone, extended deepest condolences on the tragic accident that killed Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Douangchay Phichit and his wife, and Minister of Public Security Thongbane Sengaphone together with other high level officials of the Government of Laos.
"The Government and the people of Sri Lanka join me in extending to Your Excellency and through you, to the Government and the people of Laos, and in particular to the families of the bereaved, our deepest condolences on this tragic accident. Please be assured that the thoughts and prayers of all Sri Lankans are with the people of Laos in their hour of sorrow," the President's message read.
The Russian-built military aircraft, with 20 people on board, crashed in a wooded area of the northern province of Xiangkhouang, 470 kilometers from the Laotian capital Vientiane, killing five people.
Reportedly the officials were travelling from Vientiane to an official ceremony in Xiangkhouang.