The trio had had been killed after Tep Phal, 73, had been using the 105mm shell sticking out of the ground, as a makeshift workbench at his home in Preah Sdech district, Prey Veng province, Cambodia, on Tuesday, May 24, 2016.
The trio were reportedly killed after Tep Phal, 73, had been using the 105mm shell sticking out of the ground, as a makeshift workbench at his home in Preah Sdech district, Prey Veng province, Cambodia, on Tuesday, May 24, 2016.
Tep Phal had been using the flat bottom of the shell as a work surface to beat a small piece of metal in shape with an ax.
The Provincial chief of police, Mr Sreng Chea, disclosed that Tep Phal had been preparing the metal piece as cap for a wood stake he had planned to use in tethering his cows.
Speaking on the sad incident, Mr Chea further disclosed:
"According to relatives and villagers, he had it since the 1980s and always used it as a surface to hit things, but it never exploded."
When the shell had finally exploded on that fateful day at about 11:30 a.m., it had instantly killed Tep Pha and the two children identified as, Phal Nary, 12, and her brother, Phal Dara, 9.
Mr Chea adds:
"I think maybe he did not think it could explode. It’s very shocking because the family lost three members at once."
Mr Chea also said that the authorities had often informed locals about the dangers of these decades old artilleries, revealing that it had been a long time since such an explosion had claimed a life in the province.
Romcheck commune chief, Pheung Ry, said:
"When it exploded, his wife was in the house, but his two grandchildren were playing near him, so they were killed along with their grandfather."
Mr. Ry revealed that he often saw the shell at Tep Phal’s house but had no idea that the old man was using it as a workbench, adding that Tep Phal who had been a teacher, should have known better.
"Previously, CMAC [Cambodian Mine Action Center] officials had educated villagers in my commune, but he kept it in secret.
“I think he thought it would not explode."
The bodies are reported to have been cremated, as the government has now advised villagers to report any case where an artillery is uncovered, but not to touch it themselves.
The country remains littered with old mines, bombs and rockets across, with little or nothing to be done to get rid of them.
May their souls rest in peace.