Phnom Penh Airport Hosts Full-Scale Emergency Rescue Exercise

Smoke billowed over Phnom Penh International Airport and people lay on the grass verges near an aircraft simulator on Friday as hundreds of rescue service personnel and firefighters took part in the airport’s fourth-ever full-scale emergency exercise.

Hundreds of soldiers and police, as well as actors playing the role of injured passengers, also took part in the emergency exercise, which centered around the airport’s life-size aircraft simulator, where fire crews battled to put out an engine fire.

“We held this exercise because we want to be prepared,” said Nhim Vanda, vice president of the National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM).

Mr. Vanda said that Cambodia had experienced a number of air crashes since 1997, when a Vietnam Airlines plane crashed at the airport killing 66 people with only one young survivor.

A second plane crash, in a mountainous region of Kampot province in 2007, resulted in the deaths of 22 people with no survivors, while a third crash in Kandal province of a cargo plane not long after resulted in one injury and no fatalities among the five crew members, he said.

“Starting from now, we are already prepared for rescues: not only air accident but other accidents too,” Mr. Vanda said. “We will the take the good points from this exercise as an example.”

Mao Havannal, secretary of state for the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation, said the joint exercise was of a larger scale than previous years, as more members

of the rescue services had taken part.

An estimated 500 members of the army, air force and military police participated, said Major General Duong Ra, deputy commander of RCAF Brigade 70, who participated with more than 100 troops from his unit.

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