LONDON, Jul 29: A military helicopter with 19 passengers and four crew members on board has been missing in Laos since earlier this week after it had an accident in poor weather.
The crash happened shortly after 1 pm (0600 GMT) on Monday as the copter was flying to the northeastern provinces of Xiangkhouang and Houaphanh, the official Lao News Agency also known as KPL quoted the country’s National Defense Ministry as saying.
“The helicopter lost communication with Aviation Control Center a short time after it left [the capital] Vientiane with 4 crew members and 19 passengers on board,” the report added.
It noted that rescue teams have been dispatched to the area to conduct a ground search after bad weather conditions hampered an aerial search.
The MI-17 helicopter departed from the Wattay International Airport, about three kilometers outside the Laos capital city of Vientiane, on Monday and it is not clear yet whether it was in an accident or had to make an emergency landing.
Laos, with poor air safety, has experienced deadly crashes in both civilian and military sectors.
The landlocked nation of around seven million people has had 32 fatal air accidents since the 1950s, the Aviation Safety Network reported.
Five senior officials, including Laos defense minister, on board a military plane were killed in a crash last May as the aircraft was also making its way to Xiangkhouang Province.