A former Khmer Rouge soldier died instantly while trying to use a B40 RPG shell to make an explosive device for fishing. Police said an error in his technique caused an explosion.
The accident occurred on the evening of March 6 in Trapaing Tav commune’s O Sramor village of Oddar Meanchey province’s Anlong Veng district.
Trapaing Tav commune police chief Pheng Huot identified the victim as Srey Chien, a 66-year-old resident of O Sramor village.
Huot told The Post on March 8 Chien had been warned several times about the dangers of illegal modification of unexploded ordnance (UXO) into explosives for fishing in rivers and lakes.
“Most of the UXO he used to make fish shells were 60mm and B40 – those were the UXOs he collected from his field,” Huot said.
Anlong Veng district police chief Sim Vannak told The Post that after the incident, police inspected the scene and found that Chien’s body had been torn into three pieces by the powerful explosion and each piece was located more than 10m away from the others.
Vannak said that near the portion of Chien’s body consisting of his upper torso and head, police found some pieces of the B40 shell. They also found another 60mm shell casing next to the back porch of the victim’s house, which was the area where he often processed explosives.
“It is fortunate that no other members of his family were injured or killed in this tragic accident,” Vannak said.
According to Vannak, since 2002 around 10 people in Trapaing Tav commune have been killed or injured while attempting to modify UXOs – mostly the 60mm shells that were originally used in mortars. The victims usually used a hammer and other tools to modify them and either set them off for fun or for fishing in the river.
Located in the north of Cambodia and once known as the Khmer Rouge’s final stronghold – as well as the place where Pol Pot met his end – Anlong Veng district was one of the most intense battlefields over the final decades of the civil war.
Much of the farmland in the district remains contaminated with mines and UXO which are still causing injuries and deaths.