A landmine killed a man on May 22 while he was operating a power tiller to plough a rice field in Sro Em commune’s Stung Khieu Techo village of Preah Vihear province’s Choam Ksan district.

Deputy district governor Linh Yut told The Post on May 23 that the 29-year-old victim, Ry Lin, lived in Anlong village of the district’s Kantuot commune.

“The victim went to work ploughing the field and unfortunately he hit an anti-tank mine buried there, leaving him dead from the explosion – one powerful enough to completely destroy the power tiller in the blast as well, so it’s likely he died instantly,” he said.

He said that on the morning of May 22, Lin drove his power tiller onto the field to plough it and did so until just past 2pm when the villagers heard the explosion and ran to see what caused it, only to find the victim was already dead.

Shortly thereafter, the villagers reported the incident to the Sro Em commune police, who dispatched officers to the scene immediately.

He said that upon examining the victim’s body at the site of the accident, the police found shrapnel in his broken left shoulder and abrasions of the flesh. His abdomen suffered deep wounds due to shrapnel hitting him there as well. The power tiller was completely wrecked, indicating that the force of the blast was even greater than that of a typical anti-tank mine detonation in the country.

After concluding that the man’s death was definitely by misadventure caused by the presence of unexploded ordnance (UXO) in the field he was ploughing that day, his body was handed over to his family for a funeral.

Yut noted that UXO units were long known to be present in certain areas of the district and the munitions still posed a danger to anyone who came into contact with them even all these many years later.

Yut said officials from the Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) and the local authorities have always instructed everyone to be extra careful and watch out for the munitions, but some still met with accidents encountering them through no real fault of their own, leaving them badly injured or dead all too often.

“Since the beginning of January through May of this year, mines and bombs have killed six victims here and wounded another six, all of them men,” he said.

He added that Choam Ksan district was currently the site of three different demining missions run by different operators. CMAC has a unit stationed in the district full-time, and they also conduct demining activities in Oddar Meanchey province’s Trapaing Prasat and Anlong Veng districts as well as Thala Barivat district in Stung Treng province.

He noted that the deminers from Halo Trust did the work in Choam Ksan district, assisted by deminers from the Cambodian Landmine Museum – also known as the Akira museum.

The Cambodian Red Cross branch in Preah Vihear province donated 500,000 riel and other daily necessities to Lin’s family on May 23 to assist them in their time of need.