Explosion at Cambodian Military Base that Killed 20 Soldiers Ruled Accidental

Deadly explosion at Cambodian military base kills 20 soldiers, injuring 11 others. Officials attribute the blast to technical issues with old, unstable ammunition, exacerbated by extreme heatwave conditions.

Rafia Tasleem
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Explosion at Cambodian Military Base Kills 20 Soldiers, Injures 11

Explosion at Cambodian Military Base Kills 20 Soldiers, Injures 11

On April 27, 2024, a massive explosion at a military base in Kampong Speu province, southwestern Cambodia, killed 20 soldiers and injured 11 others, including a child. The blast destroyed an entire truck of munitions and leveled several buildings at the base, including an office building and nearby barracks. Homes in a nearby village were also damaged.

The Cambodian Defense Ministry stated that the explosion was an accident caused by a "technical issue" stemming from old and degraded ammunition that was being moved. Army spokesperson Maj. Gen. Mao Phalla said the soldiers were transferring the ammunition into a storage facility when the blast occurred. "This was not an attack or act of rebellion as claimed by some," the Defense Ministry emphasized in a statement, warning that anyone publishing untrue information about the incident could face prosecution.

Prime Minister Hun Manet announced that the families of the soldiers killed in the explosion will receive around $20,000 each in compensation, while injured soldiers will get $5,000. He instructed the Defense Ministry to thoroughly investigate the cause of the blast.

Why this matters: The deadly explosion highlights the ongoing problem of munitions accidents in Cambodia, which has an abundance of leftover ammunition and unexploded ordnance from past conflicts. Lax safety standards often exacerbate the risk posed by old and unstable weapons.

The Defense Ministry attributed the blast to a combination of technical issues with the old and faulty weapons, as well as the extreme heatwave conditions affecting the region in recent days. Investigators ruled out terrorism or rebellion as causes. "This was a tragic accident resulting from the deterioration of old explosive weapons," a ministry spokesperson reiterated. Funeral rites were held for the fallen soldiers, whose coffins were draped with the Cambodian flag as they were laid to rest.

Key Takeaways

  • Deadly explosion at Cambodian military base kills 20 soldiers, injures 11.
  • Blast caused by technical issues with old, degraded ammunition, not an attack.
  • Families of killed soldiers to receive $20,000 each in compensation.
  • Ongoing problem of munitions accidents due to leftover ammunition from past conflicts.
  • Heatwave conditions cited as a contributing factor to the explosion.