Kandal Emergency Drill Goes Off Without a Hitch

Thousands of onlookers watched with bated breath as two RCAF helicopters, trailing ropes and ladders, hovered over the Tonle Bassac River in Kandal pro­vince Wednesday and tossed life­savers down to people bobbing helplessly in the water below them.

Four speedboats quickly pulled up. Divers jumped overboard. On the river banks, medics and am­bulances stood waited to speed the rescued “flood victims” to the hos­pital.

Cambodia’s first-ever emergency disaster response drill went off without a hitch. Nhim Vanda, vice president of the First Na­tion­al Committee for Disaster Ma­nagement, said the show of emergency response skills was a new idea borrowed from other Asean nations.

“This drill is very important for both Cambodia and other Asean nations to share experiences and knowledge in improving our disaster management,” he said.

Defense Minister Tea Banh said that flooding along the Me­kong River and flash floods in moun­tainous regions have caused significant damage since 2000.

“Cambodia lost considerably” to such disasters, he said.

Ros Phal, 25, who watched the hel­icopters and speedboats take part in the drill from the riverbank, said the emergency workers put on a good show and he was glad they could deploy with speed.

Unable to swim, Ros Phal said if he were caught in a flood his chances of survival would be slim un­less rescuers moved quickly.

“I would drown if rescue workers came late,” he said.

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