Forager Killed by Landmine on Thai-Cambodian Border

A border patrol police officer inspects the scene of a deadly landmine explosion in Surin on Aug. 27, 2020.

SURIN — Police on Friday said a woman was killed when she stepped on a live landmine while foraging for mushrooms in the forest close to Thailand’s border with Cambodia. 

Capt. Aphisit Subodhi, a duty officer at Buachet Police Station, said Sumilta Saleeme, 44, was killed by the blast on Thursday morning. She was one of the nine people who entered the forest in Charat sub-district, though no one else was injured from the incident.

“This area was once a war zone and mines were laid,” Aphisit said. “Authorities couldn’t defuse them all at the moment. If anyone wants to pick wild mushrooms, they should do so in forests near the communities as they are safer.”

One of the foragers said the victim went off the trail on her own until a loud explosion was heard. It was reportedly Sumilta’s first time looking for mushrooms in the forest. 

Police said they are yet to identify the type or make of the explosive as they have to wait for experts to investigate the scene. Aphisit said he believes it was an anti-tank mine, given the size of the blast pit.

Millions of landmines were laid along the border of Thailand and Cambodia during the tumult of the Cold War. According to a survey conducted by the army’s Thailand Mine Action Center, as many as 4,000 people have been killed or injured by those landmines.

Chief of Defence Forces Pornpipat Benyasri had pledged to demine the whole country by 2023 to show the country’s commitment to the 1997 Ottawa Treaty, which bans the use and stockpiling of anti-personnel mines.