Official: ‘No survivors’ in Cambodian air crash

/ Source: The Associated Press

Search teams confirmed Wednesday there were no survivors from a plane that crashed in southern Cambodia with 22 people aboard, including South Korean and Czech tourists, officials said.

The Russian-made An-24 aircraft operated by PMT Air crashed Monday during a storm while flying between Siem Reap — site of the famed Angkor Wat temple complex -- and Sihanoukville on the southern coast.

"All have died. It is confirmed," Information Minister Khieu Kanharith said.

All but one of bodies were found inside the plane, said Tes Vorn, a Cambodian medical staffer of a humanitarian mine-clearing organization who was dropped at the crash site by a helicopter. The body of one male passenger was found outside the plane, Tes Vorn said.

The impact of the crash caused the right wing of the aircraft to break off, he said.

Thirteen South Korean and three Czech tourists were on board, as well as five Cambodian airline employees and a Russian co-pilot, officials said.

A helicopter spotted the crash site for the first time early Wednesday morning after some 1,000 soldiers and police mounted an urgent two-day search by land and air through treacherous jungle in rainy monsoon weather.

No access
The plane's wreckage was high on a forested mountain northeast of Bokor Mountain in Kampot province, according to provincial Deputy Governor Khoy Khun Huor, who said he saw the crash site from a helicopter. He said the wreckage did not appear to have been on fire.

"The immediate step to be taken is to clear some forest for access," he said. "Helicopters now cannot land close to it."

Rescue teams were ordered to rush to the crash site, said Nhim Vanda, first vice president of the National Committee for Disaster Management.

More than a dozen family members of some of the South Korean passengers arrived in Phnom Penh from Seoul late Tuesday to await news of the fate of their relatives.

Ly Thuch, a disaster management official, said the Cambodian government will pay for their accommodation while they are in the country.

PMT Air is a small Cambodia airline that began flights in January from Siem Reap to Sihanoukville, a new domestic route launched by the government to spur the country's burgeoning tourism industry.

Sar Sareth, the airline's director, said Tuesday that he did not know what year the crashed plane was built, but added that it was in "good condition" before taking off from Siem Reap on Monday.

"It was always in compliance with flight technical and safety procedures. But we cannot say anything yet (about the cause) because information is on the flight recorder," he said.