A man was killed and another seriously injured when an anti-tank mine exploded in Banteay Meanchey province's Malai district on Friday. The incident took place in Tuol Pongro commune's Sralao Chrum village.
Commune police chief Suos Vorith identified the deceased as Chham Chhorng, 32, from Nimith commune in Banteay Meanchey province's Poipet town.
Chhorng's neighbour, 23-year-old Chiek Sok, was seriously injured in the blast and was sent to the Cambodia-Japan Friendship Hospital in the province’s Mongkol Borei district.
“According to the survivor, Chiek Sok, the explosion was triggered by a rice tractor driving over the anti-tank mine,” Vorith said.
Chhorng’s brother-in-law, Chheng Sovann Mony, 37, told The Post that before the accident, Chhorng and Sok were driving the rice tractor to transport wood from the forest in order to produce charcoal to sell and raise money for their families.
On their way back home, their rice tractor drove over the unexploded ordnance, detonating it and killing Chhorng instantly, he said.
“Their rice tractor was driving in front of mine and other villagers’ tractors . . . There were a lot of holes in the road which prompted them to change direction and drive along a different path."
"Their rice tractor drove over the anti-tank mine, which was buried close to the road . . . The explosion killed my brother-in-law, while another neighbour, who was travelling with him, suffered a broken right thigh bone,” Sovann Mony said.
He said that after the accident, he and some villagers sent Chhorng’s body home to be prepared for the funeral.
Other villagers sent Sok to Poipet Referral Hospital, but his wounds were so severe that he was transferred to the Cambodia-Japan Friendship Hospital instead.
Vorith said the area where the mine was found was a former battlefield between the Cambodian army and the Khmer Rouge. He added that the area is covered with unexploded mines, which have caused multiple injuries to villagers.
Cambodia remains among the leading nations in the world in the field of land mine clearing, with the Cambodian government aiming to rid the country of all the anti-personnel mines by 2025 as part of Ottawa Treaty.
However, the Kingdom is also still one of the most heavily mined countries in the world as a consequence of years of domestic and international conflict. Vast areas of rural Cambodia remain off limits due to extensive unexploded ordnances, causing numerous fatal injuries to Cambodia citizens each year.