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Hasty Memorial Held for 22 Crash Victims

Top Cambodian officials and family of 13 dead South Koreans gathered Thursday to memorialize the victims of a tourist plane that crashed in thick jungle earlier this week.

Twenty-two bodies were stored for identification at Calmette Hospital, transported late Wednesday from the wreckage of PMT Air Flight U4 241, which smashed into a mountain in heavy rain Monday.

The flight crashed on a newly opened tourist route from Siem Reap to the coastal town of Sihanoukville. Five Cambodian crew were killed, as well as 13 South Korean and three Czech tourists and one Uzbek crew chief.

Among the Cambodian dead was Hean Chandara, nephew of National Assembly President Heng Samrin, the Cambodia Daily reported.

Thursday's memorial was held so the Korean families could return home with the bodies of their loved ones, said Nhim Vanda, first vice president of the National Committee for Disaster Management.

"The South Korean side is holding the memorial immediately so they can fly the 13 South Korean bodies to South Korea Friday," He said. "If we keep them longer, we will have difficulty."

The return status for the Czech and Uzbek victims was unknown, he said.

Senate President Chea Sim and Heng Samrin expressed their condolences to the families in the ceremony Thursday. "We share the mourning and the pain for the souls of the Cambodians and the foreigners who died in the plane crash," Heng Samrin said.