A man was injured and rushed to hospital after his tractor detonated an anti-tank mine on May 15 in Sala Krao commune’s Stung Koy village of Pailin province’s Sala Krao district.

District police chief Meak Saran identified the driver as Moeurn Seila, 25, a resident of the village. He suffered a broken leg, an injured torso and a fractured skull in the explosion, which completely destroyed the tractor. He was taken to the Pailin Provincial Referral Hospital before being transferred to the referral hospital in neighbouring Battambang province.

“This was not the first time he had ploughed this field, but it seems that the land has changed over time. Previously the mine must have remained deep beneath the surface, but it must have worked its way up to the surface. The land owner hired him to plough, but at around 11am, the mine exploded. We have taken him to hospital and his life is not in danger,” he said.

Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) director-general Heng Ratana said on May 16 that Pailin province was one of the oldest and most complex former battlefields in the Kingdom, and more than 100 personnel are currently clearing landmines and explosive remnants of war there. They have cleared 60 per cent of the contaminated land, and CMAC hopes to declare Pailin mine-free by 2025.

He renewed his warning for people living in locations where fighting took place – especially in Pailin province – to be mindful of such devices and immediately notify CMAC or local authorities if they think they may have found any kind of unexploded ordnance, so they could be disposed of safely.

“I would like to call on all members of the public, especially those in provinces with a proven threat of landmines, to please report any information related to explosives to the police or CMAC authorities in the area, so that we can guarantee the security of the public and remove these terrible remnants of the past,” said Ratana.