A man was seriously injured in an anti-tank mine explosion while ploughing a farm with his tractor in Sala Krao commune of Pailin province’s Sala Krao district on April 3.

Commune police chief Bun Vanny identified the victim as Bon Samith, 29, a resident of the district’s Stung Kach commune.

He said that before the incident, Samith was hired by a villager to clear land in Sala Krao commune for planting cassava. While working, his tractor ran over the buried anti-tank mine left from the civil war era.

“He sustained a serious injury to his left eye and minor injuries to his torso and legs. The tractor was badly damaged,” Bun said.

After the incident, he was rushed to Pailin Provincial Referral Hospital but was then transferred to the referral hospital in neighbouring Battambang province as his condition was critical.

Keus Kum, the 45-year-old mother of Samith, told The Post on April 4 that medical specialists had already rinsed and stitched the wounds though he remained in the hospital’s ICU.

“My son has regained consciousness, but I don’t know whether he will be blind in one eye. A doctor has told us that his eye is seriously injured and his eyesight might not be the same as before,” she said.

She said Samith had been hired to plough farms for eight years and had previously found some unexploded ordnance (UXO) units underground, though they did not explode.

Yeng Sokunthea, head of mine action unit of the Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) in Pailin, said mine specialists had not completely cleared that area of UXO and mines. But residents who were former troops had cleared mines and other UXO in order to use the land for building houses and planting crops.

“We don’t encourage them to search for mines on their own because they lack technical tools, though they used to be soldiers and know how to demine. They will endanger their lives and it is also an illegal act,” he said.

Sokunthea said he will ask his group to completely clear mines in the area to ensure residents’ safety.