Fixed-Wing Drone Crashes Near Chinese Resort in Koh Kong

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A fixed-wing drone discovered in Koh Kong province on January 16, 2020, in this photograph posted to Information Minister Khieu Kanharith’s Facebook page.

The origins of a crashed, fixed-wing drone discovered in Koh Kong province about 7 km from the site of a controversial Chinese development project are being investigated by authorities, police said on Friday.

The unmanned aerial vehicle, or UAV, which is more commonly known as a drone, was discovered by locals in Kiri Sakor district and reported to authorities at about 6 p.m. on Thursday, said provincial police chief Samkhit Vien.

The crash site is some 7 km from a land concession held by Union Development Group (UDG), Vien told VOD.

Chinese-owned UDG’s $3.8 billion resort development has been the focus of controversy in recent years, with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence raising concerns in 2018 that China was developing a naval base within Cambodian territory, while anonymously sourced media reports pointed to the 45,000-hectare Koh Kong development as the possible location.

The Cambodian government has denied that it would allow a Chinese base within its territory.

Koh Kong authorities said on Friday that its officers were cooperating with experts from the Interior Ministry to investigate the crash site.

Vien, the police chief, said 35 provincial police officers were sent to be stationed at the site in Koh Sdech commune’s Prek Smach village to await Interior Ministry officials and other teams.

Three officers from the National Police had so far arrived in Koh Kong, and would begin their investigation as soon as other expert teams arrive.

“We cannot conclude anything until the technical team checks,” Vien said.

Photos published by government-aligned media portal Fresh News show the drone among thick brush with a parachute deployed and no notable markings other than the numbers “1701002” on the right side of the nose. 

Vien told Fresh News that no damages or casualties were reported.

The drone measured 5 meters long with a wingspan of 9.7 meters, according to a report from the Koh Kong provincial police headquarters, posted on Facebook by Information Minister Khieu Kanharith.

The police did not have information about who owned the drone and where it came from, the post said.

Vien also noted that the crash site was far from borders with Cambodia’s neighbors.

“The location of the scene is not close to the Cambodia-Thailand border,” he said. “It is far from the Thai border.”

The police chief added this is the first time that a drone has crashed in Koh Kong province.

He said the Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) will disassemble the drone on Saturday and send the parts to Phnom Penh for more research.

(Translated and edited from the original article on VOD Khmer)

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