Four more chemical bombs were discovered over the weekend in Svay Rieng’s Koki commune, where ordnance removal teams are currently in the process of digging up two US-made tear gas bombs, and where eight villagers were hospitalised after being exposed to chemicals.
“According to the witnesses, they have four chemical bombs at four sites in Traving village,” Heng Ratana, the director of the Cambodian Mine Action Centre, said yesterday.
In January, two large chemical bombs were discovered containing 2-chlorobenzalmalononitrile tear gas – also known as CS – on the grounds of the commune’s primary school and pagoda. One was removed from the primary school last week, and Ratana said experts would continue excavating the second bomb from the pagoda today.
“We have all the safety equipment to excavate that bomb, but we feel concerned if it explodes,” he said.
En Ra, deputy Taving village chief, said the eight affected villagers there have already returned home after being treated at the provincial hospital, adding that it was his own cousin who originally unearthed the chemical bomb.
“He dug up this piece of the bomb himself, and seven other people inhaled it. They stood a long way from him, around 50 metres away from him, but the chemical poured out,” Ra said.
Another villager, Meas Neang, said there are many small chemical bombs scattered in the area.
“I didn’t know it was the piece of a chemical bomb like the CMAC official said. But that piece of that bomb I have handled before . . . Now they say this is a piece of a chemical bomb, so I feel concerned about my children,” Neang said.