Since the beginning of January, eleven people were injured and one killed by land mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO). According to a March 27 report from the Cambodian Mine Action Authority (CMAA), this represents a 56 per cent reduction on the same period in 2022, when 27 people became the victims of explosive remnants of war.
Ly Thuch, first vice-president of the CMAA, told The Post that three of the 12 victims were affected by mines while the remaining nine were the victims of UXOs.
“One of the 12 victims died, while four sustained injuries that required amputations,” he said.
The incidents occurred in Ratanakkiri, Oddar Meanchey, Siem Reap, Preah Vihear, Pursat, Kampong Thom, Takeo and Kratie provinces.
Ratanakkiri province had the highest number of victims with the record of three, followed by Oddar Meanchey and Siem Reap, where two people were affected.
Preah Vihear, Pursat, Kampong Thom, Takeo and Kratie each recorded one victim.
Local authorities highlighted the fact that most of the incidents were the result of people’s lack of awareness about the dangers of unexploded ordnance.
Siem Reap province’s Banteay Srei district police chief Long Samnang told The Post that on March 25, a group of construction workers discovered a B40 rocket while they were digging the foundations for a new development in Run Ta Ek commune’s Tani village.
“They did not report it to authorities, but lifted it and threw it out of the pit they were digging,” he said.
“They decided that it was safe, as it was old and rusty and had not exploded when they threw it on the soft ground next to their worksite. Some other workers were tossing it around when it landed on a large rock. The warhead exploding, injuring the foreman and a nearby worker, one of them seriously,” he added.
Samnang concluded that the two victims were now recovering at the Siem Reap provincial hospital.
Chhun Bora, explosive ordinance disposal supervisor and training manager at Cambodia Self Help Demining (CSHD), called on the public to report any unexploded ordnance to the authorities. He also issued a reminder that entering an area which is suspected of containing unexploded ordnance for the purpose of selling, storing or using them is illegal.
“To prevent the risk of death or permanent disability, people should leave any suspected mine or UXO they discover in place and alert the local authorities as soon as possible. Under no circumstances should they attempt to move them, let alone throw or hit them. Even after decades, all explosives remain deadly,” he said.