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Preah Vihear excavator driver hit by sharpnel

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Sok Rotha was unaware he hit an anti-tank mine when an explosion shook his excavator. CMAC

Preah Vihear excavator driver hit by sharpnel

An 18-year-old man was rushed to the Choam Ksan district referral hospital after he sustained serious head injuries on Sunday when the excavator he was using to dig a canal hit an anti-tank mine in Kamprak village, Yeang commune, Preah Vihear province.

Yeang commune police chief Chum Savin told The Post on Monday that Sok Rotha was hired to drive the excavator. He is from Banteay Meanchey province and is receiving treatment.

“He was hit by shrapnel, leaving his head injured rather seriously, but he didn’t die. He was digging out a canal when he hit the mine which exploded,” Savin said.

Savin said Rotha told police that as he was driving the excavator in the village, an explosion occurred shaking his excavator. He also felt pain in his head and the machinery was damaged.

“But he didn’t know that he hit a mine, and moments later, many people had swarmed the scene,” Savin said.

The area where the explosion took place, Savin said, is a former battlefield between government forces and the Khmer Rouge.

He said in the past three years there have been three cases of anti-tank mines exploding, but no one has died.

Preah Vihear provincial deputy police chief Sam Samoeun, who is in charge of the ammunition management plan in the province, said on Monday that across the province, there were not many anti-tank mine explosions because the explosion area did not have many mines left.

Moreover, he said, the Cambodian Mine Action Center (CMAC) had cleared them almost completely at areas along the Cambodia-Thailand border.

“The anti-tank mine was left over from wartime. It was planted on the road to blow up cars,” Samoeun said.

He said in the province, no one had died of mines and only one person had been injured this year.

“Currently, the CMAC is based near the [Preah Vihear] temple. When people spot unexploded mines they call the CMAC in to collect them,” he said.

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