Pilot killed in crash given hero’s send-off


GEORGE TOWN: Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) pilot Major Kayamboo Chellam was given a hero’s burial at the Batu Lanchang Hindu cemetery here today. He was 45.

He was accorded full military honours as he was killed while on duty when the plane he was piloting crashed in Butterworth yesterday. Three others with him were seriously hurt.

The Jalur Gemilang was draped over the casket at Kayamboo’s home in Sungai Nibong before Hindu funeral rites were performed for two hours from 2pm.

At 4pm, nine officers from the 16th Squadron of the RMAF placed Kayamboo in a hearse, while the top brass and at least 300 airmen stood guard and saluted.

Joining them were Air Support Unit chief Lieutenant-General Abdul Mutalib Ab Wahab and members of Bakat TUDM, the association of wives of air servicemen.

A 10km convoy of RMAF buses, guarded by military policemen, accompanied Kayamboo’s remains to the Batu Lanchang burial grounds.

There, the same pallbearers lowered his body into the grave as hymns were sung at 5.30pm.

Mutalib and servicemen used their hands to shovel earth into the grave.

Kayamboo’s wife, S Usha, 42, wailed as she watched. His four children, aged 2 to 13, were in tears.

Kayamboo’s father, M Chellam, 72, and mother M Indra Devi, 65, screamed in Tamil: “How could you go before us?”

When the grave was half-filled, the bereaved family started singing “Happy Birthday”.

Kayamboo, who was from Jelutong, Penang, died on his birthday yesterday.

The turboprop plane he was in crashed close to the RMAF Butterworth landing strip yesterday.

In the 5.18pm incident, Kayamboo and three others were on a training mission from Subang, Selangor, to Butterworth. They were supposed to return to the Subang air base after completing the trip.

Three others miraculously survived the crash with serious injuries. They are receiving treatment at the Penang Hospital.

A team has been set up to ascertain the cause of the crash.

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