One Deminer Killed, Another Injured by Landmine in Pailin

A deminer working for the NGO Halo Trust was killed and another was injured in Pailin province on Friday after they detonated a mine while attempting to clear an area in the former Khmer Rouge stronghold, the NGO said.

Staff from the NGO and the government’s Cambodian Mine Action Authority visited the area on Sunday as part of a joint investigation into the death of Loeung Reaksmey, 55, who was killed almost instantly at about 7:30 a.m. in Bar Yakha commune on the Thai border, said Halo Trust country director Matthew Hovell.

“Initial findings indicate that Mr. Reaksmey and his colleague were preparing a lane ahead of clearance and initiated an anti-personnel mine with a vegetation clearing tool,” Mr. Hovell said in an email on Friday.

“Fragmentation bypassed his protective equipment and caused severe injury to his head which led to his death seconds after the accident.” The hilly and forested area prevented the deminers from using “mechanical clearance assets,” he added.

Mr. Hovell did not respond on Sunday to questions about the tools that were used by the deminers or how fragments bypassed Loeung Reaksmey’s protective gear.

The other deminer, named by police as Nguy Thany, remained hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries, including corneal abrasion, Mr. Hovell said.

“She received some slight damage to her eyes,” he said. “We expect her to be released before the end of next week.”

The deceased had worked with Halo since 2003 and had been part of a team that had cleared more than 1,450 landmines from 28 minefields in surrounding communities, he said.

Another Halo worker was killed in April in Pursat province’s notorious K-5 minefield. The NGO said at the time that the 36-year-old deminer had been using the “wrong tool” while clearing the land for houses and farms.

(Additional reporting by Matt Surrusco)

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