Rescue workers at the scene where a Lao air force plane crashed in a forested area of Xiangkhoung province, Laos, on Saturday. Pic: AP.

BANGKOK (AP) — The bodies of three top officials from Laos are lying in state following the crash of a military plane in the country’s forested northeast.

At least five people have been confirmed dead so far, including Defense Minister Douangchay Phichit. A total of 18 people were believed to be on board the Ukrainian-made AN-74TK-300 transport aircraft when it went down Saturday.

The Lao Communist government is notoriously secret and most information about the crash came from officials in neighboring Thailand.

The Lao state news agency KPL says state funerals will be held later Monday for the defense minister and the others, including Public Security Minister Thongbane Sengaphone and Vientiane Gov. Sukhan Mahalad. It says an investigation into the crash is underway.

A three-day national mourning ends Monday.

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