A man hired to operate a plough was killed in a rice field yesterday when he struck an anti-tank mine in Battambang province’s Phnom Prek district, bringing this year’s death toll from unexploded ordnance to at least eight.
The victim, Sorn Sim, 36, was a resident of O’Tasok village, according to Phnom Prek district police chief Song Sopheak.
Sopheak said the incident occurred in a field that farmers had cultivated for years, but had formerly served as a battlefield.
“He drove the tractor to plough that field and, unfortunately, he ran over the mine,” Sopheak said, adding that the tractor was split in two by the explosion, which, he said, led to suspicions there may have been more than one mine.
Keo Pov, coordinator of mine-related issues in six districts, including Phnom Prek, said it was the first mine accident that has occurred in Phnom Prek in 2015. However, similar explosions in nearby Pailin province have left one dead and another injured this year.
“The accident happened on a mine field where CMAC [Cambodian Mine Action Center] had not begun demining operations,” Pov said. He explained that a single anti-tank mine contains about 4kg of explosive, “so it’s a strong explosion”.
According to CMAC, in the last 20 years, more than 64,000 hectares of land have been cleared of explosives.