Helicopter Crash Victims Honored, Buried

The pilot and two crew members who were killed in Monday’s helicopter crash and explosion at Pochentong Air Force Base were cremated Wednesday at Wat Lang­ka.

Pilot Prak Thonavuth, 41, was promoted posthumously from lieutenant colonel to colonel at the emotional ceremony by Min­is­try of Defense Under­secretary of State Phan Nguon. Chhim Sovanara, 36, and Khim Sothy, 36, were both promoted from captain to major by Phan Nguon, who presided over the ceremony and lit the cremation for each of the victims.

Wives, sons, daughters, friends and colleagues attended the cremation, which went on until 8 pm Wednesday. There was much discussion at the ceremony of Monday’s tragedy, although an official investigation to determine the exact cause of the incident had yet to begin.

The three men died when their helicopter crashed shortly after take­off. Defense officials blamed pilot error for the crash of the Mi-17 helicopter, which was scheduled to transport a delegation of Viet­nam­ese military officials.


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