Nine villagers have been sent for medical treatment after being exposed to a chemical bomb in Svay Rieng province’s Korki commune yesterday.
Sour Mol, deputy governor of Romeas Hek district, said nine people, including one man, had been affected.
They were identified as Pov Nay, 47, Hem Seat, 53, Chap Sen, 54, So Neng, 49, Srey Nop, 25, Chap Soeun, 50, Ou Rin, 45, Hing Nak, 40 and Put Seat, 45.
“Their symptoms include eye pain, aches and difficulty breathing,” Mr Mol said, adding that all of them were receiving treatment at the district hospital.
Kuch Sitha, deputy director of the provincial referral hospital, said the villagers were affected while they were farming, according to a provincial health department report.
“They were digging the land and touched the bomb in Romeas Hek district’s Korki commune, where the Cambodian Mine Action Centre has encountered and removed similar bombs. The bombs were dropped by US soldiers during the war,” he said.
Mr Sitha added the villagers would be transferred to the provincial hospital if their condition worsened.
Commune clerk Kim Thoeun confirmed the villagers were from the commune, saying they had been hired to clear grass on a plot of cassava.
“While they were clearing the grass, they touched on a plastic package containing yellow powder,” he said, adding that the powder was a chemical substance used in barrel bombs.
Ms Nop, who received an injection while staying in hospital, said she was concerned about her future health following the chemical exposure.
“I don’t what it was, but after exposure, we coughed, sneezed, and some of my colleagues vomited,” she said, adding that a foul-smelling smoke had been emitted.
Ms Nop said she felt better but did not know when she would be allowed to leave the hospital.
Last year, eight villagers in Korki commune were sent to hospital after being exposed to chemical bombs. They saw metal in a paddy field and dug it out to sell as scrap, but smoke was discharged, causing them to vomit and collapse.
According to the Foreign Ministry, there are 34 locations throughout the country known to contain chemical barrel bombs.
These include two chemical bomb sites discovered in Tbong Khmum provinces’s Choam Kravien commune, and 29 chemical bomb sites in Svay Rieng’s Korki commune located close to villagers’ homes.
In Mondulkiri province, ten chemical bomb sites were recently discovered, covered by forest and crops planted by indigenous villagers.
Last year, more than 100 villagers in Svay Rieng province were found to be suffering from the effects of chemical bombs and sent to hospital for treatment.
Most had skin and respiratory complaints, while some babies have been born with abnormalities thought to be linked to bomb exposure.
In December, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in The Hague came to Cambodia to assist in chemical bomb clearance following the government’s request.
They inspected all chemical bomb sites in Tbong Khmum, Svay Rieng and Mondulkiri provinces and later confirmed the barrel bombs were chemical weapons.