Mine clearance death probed

Ros Chanveasna / Khmer Times No Comments Share:

Authorities have launched an investigation into how one deminer was killed and another was seriously injured during an operation in Pailin province.
 
Provincial police chief Brigadier General Chea Chandin said the explosion happened in a forested area at about 7am on Friday.
 
Halo Trust deminer Loeung Reaksmey, 55, was killed immediately. His injured colleague was Nguy Thany, 28, from Bar Yakha commune’s Ba Huy Choeung village near the Thai border.
 
She was said yesterday to be in stable condition in a hospital in Battambang province.
 
Cambodian Mine Action Authority (CMAA) first vice-president Serei Kosal said yesterday that a joint investigative group consisting of CMAA officials and Halo Trust mine experts went to the scene.
 
“We believe that the old explosives had been buried with mines piled on top of each other during fighting between the government and Khmer Rouge soldiers in the 1980s.”
 
“When the deminer took one off the top another which was placed under it exploded and killed him instantly,” Mr. Kosal said.
 
The blast was caused by a Gyata-64, a Hungarian anti-personnel mine similar to the Russian PMN mine in design and appearance, which was used during the Cold War.
 
Mr. Kosal said Halo Trust had cleared 78 anti-personnel mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) in the area.
 
He said four people had been killed or injured by mines or explosives in the country this year.
 
On Friday, the Swiss government agreed to provide an additional $3.5 million to the United Nations Development Program to Cambodia to assist CMAA with demining in the northwestern part of the country.
 
The deal was signed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation counselor Rahel Boesch and the country director of the United Nations Development Program to Cambodia Nick Beresford in Phnom Penh.
 
Mr. Kosal said: “This aid assistance given by Switzerland is expected to be implemented for demining operations in Battambang, Banteay Meanchey and Pailin provinces for a three-year period from 2017 to 2019.”
 
He said that mines and UXOs were not only big threats to the safety of Cambodian people, but were also the biggest hindrance to infrastructure, socioeconomic and agricultural development.
 
The UN Development Program website says that between 2011 and 2016, almost 420,000 people, including 210,000 women and more than 1,000 students, benefited from the Clearing for Results project.
 
Under the project, more than 20,240 anti-personnel mines, 325 anti-tank mines and 24,550 pieces of UXO were destroyed and 109 million square meters of priority land was cleared and released for agricultural use, residences and infrastructure development.
 
The number of causalities decreased from 145 in 2010 to 33 in 2016.
 
An estimated four to six million landmines and other munitions left from decades of war and internal conflict continue to contaminate Cambodia, the CMAA reported in November.
 
The northwestern regions bordering Thailand are heavily affected, while other parts of the country are considered moderate to low-impact zones, affected mostly by explosive remnants of war.

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