Air Force Commander Among Dead in Helicopter Crash

An air force deputy commander and at least three other soldiers were killed when a Chinese-built military helicopter crashed in Phnom Penh’s Dangkao district Monday morning, according to the air force commander. One man survived the crash.

An official in the national police’s intelligence department, who declined to give his name because he is not authorized to speak with the media, said Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) deputy commander Brigadier General Ieng Vanarith was among the dead.

“He went on a flight with the trainers to see how his own men were training,” the police official said.

Royal Cambodian Armed Forces personnel coordinate recovery efforts Monday after a Chinese-built military helicopter crashed in Phnom Penh’s Dangkao district, killing an air force deputy commander and at least three other soldiers. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)
Royal Cambodian Armed Forces personnel coordinate recovery efforts Monday after a Chinese-built military helicopter crashed in Phnom Penh’s Dangkao district, killing an air force deputy commander and at least three other soldiers. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

General Soeng Samnang, commander of the air force, said that four soldiers were killed, including a deputy commander.

“Four died and one was injured,” he said. “Among the four dead is a deputy commander.”

Khat Sokhai, chief of Prey Sar commune, said the helicopter crashed at about 9 a.m. in a quarry in Prey Tituy village. He said an ambulance had picked up the injured person and rushed them to Calmette hospital.

A doctor at Calmette said the soldier, 27-year-old Cheng Soksambor, was able to speak and had sustained “minor injuries” in the crash.

Kem Gunawadh, director-general of state-run TVK, wrote on his Facebook page that the helicopter was a Chinese-built Z-9, 12 of which were obtained last year in a nearly $200 million loan and purchase deal with the Chinese government.

“The Z-9 Helicopter crashed into an about 20-meter deep quarry,” he wrote. “The expert groups are finding the black box.”

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Correction: A previous version of this story stated that Brigadier General Ieng Vanarith was an air force commander. He was a deputy commander. Also, previous estimates put the number of soldiers killed at 5.

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