A man died on Sunday afternoon after falling into the flames of a charcoal kiln near his home in Battambang’s Raksmey Sangha village, while his wife and son were badly burned in their attempt to save him, local police said.
As it is for many in the province, charcoal production was the primary source of income of victim Yuon Sort, 48, and his family.
Sort was startled by the heat of the kiln while attempting to recover charcoal for sale and subsequently lost his balance and fell in, said Ratanak Mondol district deputy police chief Sorn Nil, who added that his body “was taken out of the kiln after using two fire engines”.
Unlicensed charcoal production is illegal in Cambodia, but authorities in poorer areas often turn a blind eye. French NGO GERES estimates Cambodia burns through 500,000 tonnes of charcoal each year, requiring 3.5 million tonnes of wood.
Nil said Sort’s wife, Chhem Det, 45, and son, Yuon Vichet, 15, were both badly burned on their face, bodies and arms, having rushed to Sort’s aid. Both were sent to the provincial hospital for treatment.
Nil believes the accident was the result of Sort being “drunk and careless”.
But Sort’s son denied his father had been drinking the day he died. He added that normally his parents would dampen the kiln a day before removing the charcoal, but that this Saturday they might not have watered it adequately.