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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Miners die in poorly ventilated mineshaft

Miners die in poorly ventilated mineshaft

Two artisanal gold miners suffocated to death on Tuesday at an illegal operation in Kratie province, officials said yesterday, after they were overwhelmed by smoke while at a depth of 80 metres.

Yem Kemyuth, 27, and Khun Nak, 30, died after inhaling the smoke produced by a machine they were filling with oil in a section with poor airflow, said Kbal Damrei commune chief Srea Ton.

“When they went down there, they inhaled the smoke, and suffocated, and died,” Ton said.

Sok Kirirath, head of the provincial department of mines and energy, said seven or eight families were illegally mining on the land of the Xing Yuan Kanng Yeak Co, which was licensed to mine.

Officials have already repeatedly warned the families to halt their illegal activity, Kirirath said. “But they continued to do it,” he said. He added that officials have now shut down their operation but would not send their case to court.

Provincial prosecutor Ty Sovinthal said the leader of the illegal operation had compensated at least one of the families of the deceased, and that he did not have any power to pursue further action. The families, he added, did not file complaints.

The miners had been “careless”, Sovinthal said, and “there’s no article to detain the owners, so therefore, they compromised with the family”.

Nak’s family received $2,000, Ton said. He said he did not know about Kemyuth’s family.

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