An explosives removal specialist died and two others were seriously injured in an accidental explosion at a warehouse in Koh Kong province used by demining NGO Halo Trust to store mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO), police and the organization said Thursday.
“One man died on the spot. His legs and his throat were severely injured, and two others were seriously injured and sent to Koh Kong [provincial] referral hospital for emergency treatment,” said Riel Chandara, police chief in Khmemarak Phumnin in Mondol Seima district.
The incident occurred Wednesday, Mr. Chandara said, adding that the three men, explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) experts, were trying to move an explosive remnant of war when it detonated. “They made a technical mistake when handling the UXO at their warehouse,” Mr. Chandara said, adding that he was not exactly sure why the explosion occurred.
Halo announced in a statement Thursday that the deceased staff member was Moul Piseth, who had worked with the organization since 2004. “Mr. Moul Piseth was a hardworking and popular member of staff,” the organization said.
Shrapnel also injured 43-year-old Halo Trust staff member Kong Vibal in the head and chest, while his colleague, Yuth Khuoy, 38, received injuries to his left leg and head. Mr. Vibal and Mr. Khuoy were immediately taken to the provincial referral hospital, where shrapnel was removed from their wounds in emergency surgery, Dr. Suon Samith, the hospital’s deputy director, said.
“We sent the two men to [Phnom Penh’s] Calmette Hospital for further treatment and they arrived there at about 1 a.m.,” Thursday, he added.
The members of the Halo team had removed more than 400 explosives from Cham Yeam village in Koh Kong, while the U.K.-based organization, which has worked in Cambodia since 1991, has cleared a total of 425,000 mines and UXO throughout the country. The incident was a reminder of the dangers deminers and EOD experts face on a daily basis, the NGO said.
In January, four U.S. EOD specialists working with the Cambodian Mine Action Center and Golden West Humanitarian Foundation were injured when a UXO detonated during a training session.