A 48-year-old man was on Wednesday found dead at a paddy field in Kampot province’s Pong Teuk village, Sre Cheng commune, in Chumkiri district after he went out to burn stubble from harvested rice, local police said.
On Thursday, Chumkiri district police chief Mey Sokhom identified the victim as Chea Thorn. He was last seen on Tuesday afternoon riding a motorbike on his way to the paddy field, about 200m from his house.
“The victim did not come home that evening. The next morning, his family found him dead at the burnt paddy field,” said Sokhom.
The body was examined by local police in cooperation with the provincial forensic doctor, who confirmed that the victim had died from asphyxiation due to excessive smoke inhalation.
No one was there to help him, police said.
Sre Cheng commune police chief Chea Dok, who is also a relative of the victim, said Thorn had asthma and was in poor health, which prevented him from doing strenuous work.
“We suspect that he suffocated because of the smoke. He was especially vulnerable because of his asthma,” said Dok, adding that the family conducted a funeral on Wednesday.
The fire also spread to nearby crops of his neighbours and destroyed some 3ha of paddy fields.
In December last year, the Ministry of Environment warned it will act against any individual caught for causing forest fires to hunt bees or grab land for private ownership.
Stubble burning was also identified by the ministry as one of the factors that could cause fires and destroy forests and homes.