Smoke created a haze over Phnom Penh’s Wat Lanka on Wednesday morning during the cremation ceremony for the two pilots who died Sunday in the Svay Rieng province helicopter crash that also killed National Police Commissioner Hok Lundy.
At least one authority has said it is now clear that their helicopter went down because of a combination of rain, wind and darkness.
“The helicopter crashed because of bad weather,” said Cheng Am, Svay Rieng provincial governor, who said he had been briefed by the Civil Aviation Secretariat experts investigating the crash.
“It was raining heavily and darkness made the pilot try to land the helicopter, but the helicopter crashed when it tried to land because it came down too fast and hit the ground,” he said.
However, the government report on the deadly crash is only about half done, said Say Sokhan, undersecretary of state with the Civil Aviation Secretariat, and no official cause has yet been pinpointed.
“After collecting information from the site up until now, our investigation is not yet complete,” he said. “We have not released any report to the public because we cannot release it with an incomplete investigation…. We are waiting for some documents from the French [manufacturer], and Sokha Helicopter Company, too, because we do not know the type of the helicopter.”
Meanwhile, life is moving forward for those mourning the loss of Hok Lundy, RCAF Lieutenant General Sok Sa Em and pilots Tep Setha, 44, and Horn Ratha, 46.
Wednesday morning, Royal Palace Minister Kong Sam Ol and Defense Ministry Secretary of State Phan Nguon presided over the cremation service for the pilots, both former members of the air force. Two tents shaded the two weeping families, as two solemn photos of the dead men stared down at the service from the coffin platforms.
“My brother, the oldest one in the family, died with great dignity,” said Horn Ratha’s sister Horn Chanlida, as tears streamed down her face.