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Hun Sen Chastises Officials, Generals on Muddled Search for Plane Crash

Prime Minister Hun Sen assailed high-ranking officials and generals Wednesday for their failure to quickly find a plane that went down in rainy, coastal mountains last week.

PMT Flight U4 241 crashed into a mountainside in heavy weather on Monday, but its wreckage was not discovered until Wednesday.

Sixteen tourists and six crew were killed, and Hun Sen said at a national workshop for disaster management Wednesday that such a long search was unacceptable.

A search led by Nhim Vanda, first vice president of the National Committee for Disaster Management, and Gen. Pol Saroeun, deputy commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, should have found the crash site more quickly, he said.

"I can speak frankly. If we used the measures that Nhim Vanda and Pol Saroeun used, up to this hour we would not have found [the crash]," he said.

"The army does not have a map," Hun Sen said. "Is it because the country is so much at peace? The stars [on the shoulders of generals] were all over. Talking about the stars, they are being gathered, weighed and sold to the people in Kampot province. But the stars that have no map, what good are they? They were being called to coordinate at such-and-such number, and they could not find the site. Maybe they did not even have a map. If they did not have maps in their hands, then they should be dismissed."

The tourist flight crashed on a new route between Siem Reap and Sihanoukville.

Aviation officials said in the wake of the crash they would change the flight route. The new route will take up to an hour and a half, compared to 45 minutes, the Cambodia Daily reported, but will avoid the mountains where the flight went down.