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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Court orders plane crash payout

Court orders plane crash payout

A South Korean court on Friday ordered a Cambodian airline to pay 3.2 billion won (US$2.8 million) in compensation to families of passengers killed in a 2007 plane crash near Bokor Mountain in Kampot province.

PMT Air’s Russian-made Antonov An-24 crashed in June 2007 on its way from the northwestern tourist hub of Siem Reap to the beach resort of Sihanoukville.

All 22 people aboard were killed, including 13 tourists from South Korea, three Czechs, a crew of five Cambodians and one Uzbek pilot.

Nuon Sary, deputy police chief of Cambodia’s Kampot province, said at the time that the plane appeared to have hit the mountain in bad weather.

Eleven families of the South Korean victims filed suit in 2008 seeking 4.5 billion won in compensation.

They claimed the accident was caused by human error and mechanical defects.

Sar Sareth, president of PMT, said today the company had been following the case but was unaware of the court order.

“I haven’t received any information about the Seoul court order about compensation, and the company has been considering compensation and waiting to see the proceedings for the victims,” Sar Sareth said.

He added that he was waiting on his boss in Russia before hanging up the phone.

Him Sarum, cabinet chief of the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation, said today that PMT Air ceased operations in 2008.

“The company said that it has asked its insurance company to compensate the victims,” he said.

Heang Sophorn, 39, said she filed a complaint to PMT seeking compensation for the death of her husband, Fuch Chandara, who was one of the pilots killed in the crash, but has received no word yet.

“Four other families of the plane crash victims and I have not received compensation or information since we filed complaints to PMT seven days after the death of my husband,” Heang Sophorn said.

More than 289,000 South Korean tourists visited Cambodia in 2010, according to the Ministry of Tourism, up 46 percent from 2009 arrivals. A total of 2.5 million visitors came to Cambodia last year, it said.

Shortly after the incident, some Korean media outlets printed an alleged transcript of the final moments of conversation between the plane’s pilot and the control tower in Sihanoukville.

“We are flying at an altitude of 2,000 feet,” said the pilot.

“You are flying too low. Given your current location, you should move to an altitude of 4,000 feet,” said the control tower.

“It’s no problem; I am familiar with this area,” said the pilot, before communications allegedly blacked out. ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY AFP

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