A 14-year-old boy died while another boy, a girl, and a man sustained serious to minor injuries on Tuesday after one of them picked up the cone of a B40 rocket and hit it on a log causing it to explode in Ta Tork commune, Samlot district, Battambang province.
Samlot district police chief Kor Bunkang said on Wednesday that Luch Lina, 14, died on the spot, while 16-year-old Srey Pich, sustained injuries to her face.
Pin Davuth, 25, sustained injuries to his right elbow and Ny Nunnat, 14, received a wound to his nose. The three injured were rushed to the Battambang provincial referral hospital.
Bungkang said one of the victims told police that they entered a forest area 6km from Thmey village, in Ta Tork commune, to gather mushrooms for sale when Lina picked up the metal piece.
He said they did not know what it was and Lina hit it on a log while three of them were watching. The metal piece then exploded.
The three were knocked out by the explosion. When they awoke, there were people around who took them to the hospital. Authorities investigated the scene and found the B40 rocket, he said.
Mushroom picking is common for people from Pursat, Ratanakkiri and Battambang provinces. Mushrooms grow for just 15 to 20 days out of the year and tend to grow on new land after a fire. The fungus can be sold for 70,000 riel ($17) to 80,000 riel ($19.50) per kg.
Battambang provincial Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) head Pring Panharith said on Wednesday that the number of victims caused by mines and other unexploded ordinances in Samlot district has increased slightly from last year.
However, he did not know the exact numbers. He said locals entered the forest to hunt even though CMAC has not cleared the area yet.
“The government does not allow us to clear mines in border areas yet but citizens still hunt in the prohibited areas,” he said.
CMAC clear mines in villages so citizens can farm, Panharith said. CMAC is not clearing mines in deep forests.
Bungkang said that Samlot was a 20km-long battlefield between the Khmer Rouge and former Khmer Republic forces along the Cambodia-Thai border. It was an important battlefield, he said, and both armies put mines there.