A recently certified paratrooper of the Royal Cambodian Army was killed on Friday after his parachute malfunctioned as he jumped from a plane in Kompong Speu province, Defense Ministry spokesman Chhum Socheat said.
The man fell to his death at about 8 a.m. during a post-graduation exercise for hundreds of soldiers who had recently finished four years of training to become qualified paratroopers, Mr. Socheat said. He attributed the death to a “technical problem.”
“He fell down to the ground and died because his parachute did not work…it’s a technical problem — we can’t blame anyone,” he said, adding that an investigation into the fatality would be carried out to avoid similar incidents.
“This is a lesson we have to learn for the future,” he said, declining to identify the paratrooper.
The fatality marked the third incident involving paratroopers since October.
During a rehearsal for the National Games opening ceremony in Phnom Penh in October, six of eight soldiers from the elite Brigade 911 paratrooper unit completely missed their target—the 60,000-capacity Olympic Stadium—and landed among traffic in surrounding streets. One paratrooper was left hanging from a lamppost outside a gas station on Preah Sihanouk Boulevard.
Chap Pheakdey, commander of Brigade 911, one of the best-trained units in the military, blamed the mishap at the time on “technical errors.”
Later, during the games, a paratrooper participating in the opening ceremony missed his mark and landed in the stands.
Asked about the pre-game incident in relation to Friday’s death in Samroang Tang district, Mr. Socheat refrained from placing any blame on the paratroopers’ training.
“That was caused by wind, so it’s not caused by anyone,” he said.
odom@cambodiadaily.com

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