Three marble miners in Kratie’s Snuol district were severely injured on Monday morning when the gunpowder they were using to quarry rock accidentally detonated while they were setting charges.
The workers – 18-year-old Ai Odom and Choeurn Ven, and Chinese national Chou Keu Thong, 35 – were rushed to Phnom Penh after the accident and are now receiving treatment at Calmette hospital, said Nhan Soyun, a Snuol district police officer.
Soyun said the trio were mining for a Chinese company called Rith Credit Thmor Marble. “The company attempted to keep the accident secret by sending the victims to the district hospital, but they were forwarded to Calmette due to serious injuries,” said Soyun, adding that police are investigating the incident.
Thoeurn Chantho, a co-worker of the miners, said the trio had drilled a half metre deep hole in the rock and were packing gunpowder into the gap when the explosion happened.
“[Choeurn Ven] was packing the gunpowder into the hole with a metal rod and hammer,” said Chantho, 25. “Maybe it was a hot day or it sparked when he hit it, but it detonated.”
The accident left both Odom and Ven with serious injuries, while Chou was only slightly injured.
Ven’s 43-year-old mother said she is considering asking the company for compensation. “He is getting an operation, but we do not know if he will be blind.”