Cambodian villagers returning home after harvesting rice drove over a hidden land mine which exploded, killing 13 people, including four teenagers, officials said Wednesday. Two other villagers were injured in the blast Sunday in a former Khmer Rouge guerrilla stronghold in the northeastern province of Oddar Meanchey, provincial deputy governor Pech Sokhen said.
The victims had been returning from harvesting rice when their vehicle veered off the road and ran over the mine, apparently planted during the Cambodian civil war, the deputy governor said.
Vann Kosal, chief of the province's Trapeang Prasat district where the incident took place, said the young people had gone to the fields to help their parents with the harvest because schools are closed Sunday.
"But it turned out to be a very tragic day," he said, adding that the blast was so powerful that officials could only identify 11 bodies for burial. Two had been mutilated beyond recognition.
An estimated 4 million to 6 million land mines and other unexploded ordnance from more than three decades of armed conflict maim or kill many Cambodians each year.
Oddar Meanchey province is about 400 kilometers (250 miles) northwest of the capital, Phnom Penh, reports the AP. I.L.