Two miners – one of them a teenager – were killed after a shaft collapse buried them alive in Ratanakkiri province on Friday afternoon, local authorities said yesterday.
Lumphat District Police Chief Theng Chanthy identified the two, from the Tompuong indigenous group, as Thoeung Rith, 15, and Nhim Thoeung, 25.
The pair had been mining gemstones when the disaster struck. They were killed instantly, Chanthy said.
“They died on Friday from the landslide, because the earth in this season is unstable,” he said. “Even though the earth is like this, they continued mining and the landslide collapsed on them.”
He said the mine shaft was about 20 metres deep. “[They mined] because they are poor and they are indigenous people,” Chanthy said, adding their families had held a funeral ceremony for the pair at the weekend.
Neither Rith’s nor Thoeung’s families could be reached for comment yesterday.
Mouen Tola said that as the two were mining on an individual basis, and not with a company, they were likely not covered by the Labour Law.
“There should be that kind of system, but there is no regulation at the moment,” he said.
“There should be a proper standard, which guarantees occupational health and safety.”
He said often indigenous minorities living in remote parts of the country faced poverty and undertook dangerous work, such as unregulated mining, to support their families.