A man was seriously injured and taken to Choam Ksan Referral Hospital on the night of January 22 after his tractor drove over an anti-tank mine that evening in Teuk Krahom commune’s Sen Rong Roeung 5 village of Preah Vihear province’s Choam Ksan district.
District police chief Say Det said that at 5:45pm that day, the 20-year-old farmer, Seak Kimhong, was ploughing when his tractor hit the mine, causing an explosion that completely destroyed the vehicle.
Det said Kimhong was rushed to the hospital for treatment and had suffered serious injuries to his eyes and face, though it did not appear any limbs would need to be amputated. He was transferred to “16 Makara” provincial referral hospital the next day.
"People went to plough the land to grow cassava like every year, but this time the anti-tank mine exploded,” he said.
He noted that Choam Ksan was formerly a very active battlefield with many anti-tank mines buried back then. In the past, people have encountered many landmines in the area and reported them to the authorities who then cleared them.
Heng Ratana, director-general of the Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC), said the war is finished, but the remaining explosive remnants of war (ERWs) continued to threaten people’s lives.
He reiterated calls for people living near former battlefield areas, especially in Choam Ksan district, to remain vigilant and immediately report to CMAC or local authorities if they have any information related to unexploded ordnance (UXOs) or encounter them.
"I appeal to the people in the landmine-threatened areas, if there is any information, please report it to the police, local authorities and CMAC agents there so that we can quickly respond to the request and ensure your safety," he said in a social media post on the night of the January 22 incident.
CMAC said on January 23 that landmines and unexploded munitions remains a threat to the lives of innocent people in Cambodia.
It said the explosion in Preah Vihear’s Choam Ksan district was a tragedy and that ERWs are dangerous for farmers and hinder economic development.
"CMAC calls on all citizens not to enter any area of unknown history and please check with local authorities and not touch any landmines or UXOs. Report immediately to the relevant authorities and demining operators nearby to take the ammunition for destruction,” CMAC said.
Separately, Ly Thuch, first vice-president of the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA), said while declaring Siem Reap province’s Siem Reap town and Kralanh district mine-free on January 16 that by December 2022, suspected areas of mines and ERWs totalling 2,554sq km across the country had been cleared.
He said 1,153,217 anti-personnel mines, 26,135 anti-tank mines and 3,034,727 ERWs were cleared to benefit more than nine million Cambodians.
Thuch said the capital and five provinces – Stung Treng, Kep, Prey Veng, Preah Sihanouk and Tbong Khmum – have been declared mine-free thus far.
He noted that this year, Cambodia plans to declare 12 more mine-free provinces: Kampong Cham, Kampong Chhnang, Takeo, Kampot, Svay Rieng, Kandal, Kratie, Kampong Speu, Kampong Thom, Siem Reap, Mondulkiri and Ratanakkiri with the support of the government, development partners, the private sector and philanthropists.