Regional disaster management officials Monday began a three-day flood relief conference that will culminate with Cambodia’s first-ever helicopter rescue exercises, an official at the National Committee for Disaster Management said.
Some 80 officials from all 10 Asean members Monday shared experiences about preparedness for floods and other disasters, according to Nith Hel, deputy cabinet chief at the NCDM.
Coastal provinces last month were hit with some of the worst flooding of the year, which damaged thousands of hectares of rice paddy.
Defense Minister Tea Banh and NCDM First Vice President Nhim Vanda will join the delegations for Wednesday’s helicopter display in Kandal province’s Takhmau town, Nith Hel said.
“In Cambodia, the government has never used helicopters to rescue people in floods,” said Nith Hel. “It uses other means such as boats, speedboats, military vessels to bring vulnerable people to safety,” he said.
Wednesday’s display will involve using an RCAF helicopter to fish volunteers out of the Bassac River with a winch, he added.
“It’s a good idea for us to get new skills in rescuing flood victims from the worst floodwaters,” he said. “If a request for helicopter rescue is made in any future flood, the government can heed it.”
Kompong Cham Provincial Governor Hun Neng said he thought a helicopter would be best used in flash floods in hilly areas.
“For people by the riverside, we don’t need such expensive emergency rescues because river people prepare themselves for each flood,” he said. “We hope for flooding because it helps fertility and vegetation.” Villagers at higher elevations in places such as Kompong Speu and Kampot provinces are not used to seasonal flooding and could benefit from helicopter rescue, he said.
Kampot Provincial Governor Thach Korn agreed that people in his province could benefit from a helicopter. “It could help out people in emergency needs if we get airborne rescue in addition to existing means,” he said.