Four years after crash, PMTair still has not compensated victims’ families
More than four years after PMTair Flight U4 241 crashed into Kampot province’s Bokor Mountain killing all 22 on board, the South Korean Embassy has revealed that, despite a court order in January instructing it to do so, the airline has yet to pay the families of the 13 South Korean victims on board.
“Concerning the compensation to the victim’s family, [either] PMT or the insurance company must compensate,” stated an e-mail issued by the South Korean Embassy on Tuesday. “The Korean families of the deceased have not received the compensation money from PMT since the terrible accident.”
In January, a court in Seoul ordered PMT to pay $2.9 million to the families. The embassy said compensation has also not been paid in a separate lawsuit against the South Korean tour company Hana Tour, which arranged the flight for the 13 South Koreans.
Kim Sophorn, undersecretary of state at the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation, said Wednesday that he has not been in contact with PMT representatives for almost a year, but assured they were working toward a solution with the victims’ families.
“We have yet to get an update from either party. We just know that they are communicating,” he said, adding that PMT does have an insurance company backing the effort, though he did not know which one. Families of the Cambodian victims of the crash claim they have had no contact with PMT in years.
PMT director Sar Sareth could not be reached for comment yesterday but in the past has given varying accounts of where the airline’s insurer is based, including the US, Russia and England.
Rew Young, a lawyer with Apex law firm, which represents the South Korean families in various cases involving the crash, said the insurer is Russian but declined to name it. He also said the families are currently engaged in lawsuits against PMT and an undisclosed company in the US. He declined to elaborate.
Vann Chan Ty, deputy financial manager of Angkor Air, could not comment about the accident but said airlines in Cambodia were required to be insured.
“Of course,” he said. “We have insurance, which is in full compliance of government regulations.”
Last Saturday marked the four-year anniversary of the devastating crash, which also killed five Cambodian nationals, whose families said last week that they too have yet to receive payment from the defunct airline.
“It has been very quiet, and I have not gotten any information,” said Heang Sorphon, mother of two and widow of Uth Chandara, the PMT captain who piloted the flight from Siem Reap to Sihanoukville. “I still want the compensation, but I don’t know what to do.”
Mr Sareth has said in the past that his company should not be held responsible for the crash, since the plane was on loan from a Russian company he did not name.
Three Czechs and an Uzbek pilot were also on board the flight.
(Additional reporting by Neou Vannarin)