PHNOM PENH, Jan. 10 (Xinhua) -- Three Cambodian deminers were killed and one seriously wounded on Monday after an anti-tank mine exploded during a demining and explosive ordnance disposal operation in northwestern Preah Vihear province, officials said.
The accident took place at 11:30 a.m. local time in a remote village in Choam Ksant district, said Heng Ratana, director general of the Cambodian Mine Action Center, adding that the victims worked for a non-profit NGO Cambodian Self Help Demining.
Ly Thuch, first vice president of the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA), said the anti-tank mine erupted when the demining experts were trying to defuse it at the request of villagers.
"This is a big loss of human resources in the demining sector," he told Xinhua. "They had saved many people's lives from landmines during their lifetime, and we will remember their great courage in mind forever."
Thuch said all the victims were males.
Cambodia is one of the countries worst-affected by mines. An estimated 4 million to 6 million landmines and other munitions have been left over from three decades of war and internal conflicts that ended in 1998.
Landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) explosions killed 11 people and injured 33 others in 2021, said a CMAA report, adding that from 1979 to 2021, landmines and UXO explosions had claimed a total of 19,808 lives, and either injured or amputated 45,156 others.