Two Die, Six Injured in Battambang Mine Explosion

An anti-tank mine explosion killed two men and injured six other people on Sunday during excavation of soil in Battambang province’s Sampov Loun district, officials said.

Landowner Chea Chet, 33, and excavator driver Tob Ngov, 27, were killed when the mine was hit while digging a pit for pig manure in Serei Meanchey commune, said Som Kovith, Sampov Loun district police chief.

Mr Chet’s one-year-old daughter, Sin Rina, and wife, Sin Yoeun, 33, watching the excavator make the pit about five meters outside their house, were injured in the explosion at 2:30 pm, Mr Kovith said. Other injured onlookers were neighbor Phok Pheap, 41, her 5-year-old son, Sok Kea, her 14-year-old son, Sok Kimheang and the 21-year-old excavator owner, identified only as Som, he said.

Mr Chet died at the scene while Ms Yoeun and Mr Ngov were taken to a hospital in Thailand and the rest went to Sampov Loun district hospital, he added. “In this area there are a lot of mines left over from the civil war. Villagers who don’t know [about mines] always meet accidents when building houses or clearing forest,” he said.

Serei Meanchey commune chief Theang Am said that Ms Yoeun, who was pregnant, hired the excavator to make a manure pit and build a toilet. “This is the first time there has been a mine explosion [in the village],” he said.

Khem Sophoan, chairman of the Cambodian Mine Action Center governing council, said that Japanese Ambassador Kuroki Masafumi would today hand over de-mining equipment donated by the Japanese government to CMAC’s De-Miner Unit 2 in Battambang province. Japan is funding a $6 million project to de-mine Battambang province and develop the area, he said.

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