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Two dead from UXO blasts

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Unexploded ordnance is displayed on a table during a press conference on demining in Phnom Penh in 2012. Vireak Mai

Two dead from UXO blasts

Two men have been killed and another seriously injured in two separate incidents involving unexploded ordnance (UXO) in Banteay Meanchey and Preah Vihear this week.

According to Heng Ratana, the director-general of Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC), a farmer in Oddar Meanchey province’s Preah Net Preah district died and another was wounded after they accidentally set off a mortar bomb on Monday.

Deu Chereuk, Preah Net Preah deputy police chief, said Choeun Samon, 32, was killed in the explosion after he used a mortar bomb, which he thought was an ordinary piece of steel, to pound his tractor engine while attempting to fix it. Vat Samet, 47, who was helping Samon, was also injured in the explosion and received treatment at a local health centre.

“We found the shells of a 60mm mortar bomb at the place where the accident happened,” Chereuk said. “We had instructed the people in the areas about UXO before, but the accident happened because the victims did not know that it was a bomb.”

According to Ratana, one day after the explosion in Oddar Meanchey, another farmer was killed after the tractor he was driving drove over a landmine in his rice field in Preah Vihear province’s Rong Roeung II village. Ratana was not informed of the victim’s name.

Ly Thouch, secretary-general of Cambodian Mine Action Authority, has said Cambodia has seen 64,705 casualties caused by UXO and landmines over the past 20 years, with landmines placed across around 2,111 square kilometres of land in the Kingdom during the civil war with the Khmer Rouge.

Over the same period, he added, CMAC had cleared about 1,670 square kilometres of landmine-covered land.

“These are the legacy of war,” Ratana said. “We will need much more time to clear the landmines and UXO from our land to make it safe for our people to farm.”

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