Landmine, UXO Deaths Spike in September

Casualties from landmines and unexploded ordnance in Cambo­dia increased by 44 percent in Sep­tem­ber compared with the same month last year, according to a monthly report issued by the Cam­bodian Red Cross.

While the report states that the number of casualties from mine and UXO accidents has decreased by more than 20 percent overall in the year to September 2008, the num­ber of casualties reported in September last year compared with this year had almost doubled from nine to 16.

The increase was due to one particularly deadly accident caused by an anti-tank landmine, said Chhiv Lim, project manager of the Cambodian Mine/Explosive Rem­nants of War Victim Infor­ma­tion System, or CMVIS.

The Sept 5 accident took place in Oddar Meanchey province when a motorized cart carrying people to a rice mill ran over and detonated an anti-tank mine, killing five people, including two children, and injuring three.

The old path the cart was traveling in Samraong district’s Konkriel commune is still littered with anti-tank mines, such as the Russian TM46, which were used by the Khmer Rouge, said Tim Porter, program manager for de-mining group Halo Trust.

“Mine strikes that are multiple casualties are tank mine strikes,” Porter said by phone Monday. An­ti-tank mines, such as the one that caused the Sept 5 accident, tend to last longer than anti-personnel mines, which decay with age, he explained. “That’s why this mine type is still functioning with monotonous regularity,” he said. “You’ll always get multiple casualties.”

The report states that even though most of last month’s casualties resulted from mine-related accidents, 60 percent of casualties re­ported from January 2007 until last month resulted from accidents involving explosive remnants of war, or ERWs—a newer and more accurate term for unexploded ordnance.

“The number of ERWs [is] always more than mines, but in September, because of one incident, [it was] because of mines,” Chhiv Lim said.

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