Anti-Tank Mines Unearthed Along Tonle Sap

Municipal construction workers had a brush with disaster Monday when the driver of an earth excavator accidentally dug up a horde of anti-tank mines buried in a section of the Tonle Sap riverbank in Phnom Penh’s Russei Keo district.

None of the mines detonated and no one was hurt. A Cam­bodian Mine Action Center official said the outcome could have been different because the massive mines still contained all of their explosive power.

The mines were uncovered in the Chroy Changva area at the site of a municipal construction project on the east bank of the river, opposite Phnom Penh’s popular stretch of riverfront restaurants.

CMAC personnel removed 10 of the rusting Chinese mines Monday, and 21 more were discovered Tuesday. They were likely part of a Khmer Rouge consignment on board a boat that sunk along the riverbank sometime before the fall of Phnom Penh in 1975, said Hang Vannara, CMAC’s acting deputy chief.

Detonators had not been placed in the mines, but each still contained enough explosives to destroy a tank, Hang Vannara said. Despite red danger signs and cordon tape still marking a 30-meter section of riverbank Wednesday, excavators and earth movers were busy at work.

Visiting the site Wednesday afternoon, Phnom Penh Deputy Governor Track Taisieng said it was just good fortune that no one was hurt.

“The [excavator] driver was very lucky,” he said. “We were all very lucky.”


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