Tragedy Strikes Cambodia Military Base: 20 Soldiers Lost in Ammunition Explosion

In south-western Cambodia, a devastating ammunition explosion at a military base has resulted in the tragic loss of 20 soldiers, along with several others injured, according to Prime Minister Hun Manet.

Expressing profound shock, Hun Manet conveyed his sentiments through a Facebook post upon learning of the blast that occurred on Saturday afternoon in Kampong Speu province. The cause of the explosion remains unclear at this time.

Visuals from the site depict severely damaged structures still emitting smoke, with at least one building having its roof blown off, and injured soldiers undergoing medical treatment at a nearby hospital. Additional images capture residential homes displaying roof damage.

According to Col Youeng Sokhon, an army official at the scene, four buildings—including three storage facilities and one operational center—were obliterated, with several military vehicles sustaining damage. Furthermore, 25 villagers’ residences were reported damaged.

The incident unfolded amidst Cambodia’s ongoing heatwave, with temperatures in the affected province reaching as high as 39°C (102°F) on Saturday. Although extreme heat alone typically does not trigger ammunition detonation, it can compromise the stability of explosives over time, potentially leading to secondary hazards like fires and subsequent chain reactions.

Eyewitness accounts shared by Kiripost, an online English news source, detailed a major explosion around 2:30 PM followed by intermittent smaller blasts for up to an hour. Local resident Pheng Kimneang recounted that nearby factory windows were shattered, and homes within a kilometer radius suffered minor structural damage.

Photographs of the military base reveal its isolated location within a vast field, seemingly devoid of adjacent civilian structures.

In response to the tragedy, Hun Manet extended condolences to the families of the fallen soldiers and pledged government support, including covering funeral expenses and providing compensation for both deceased and injured individuals.

A West Point graduate, Hun Manet previously served as army commander before assuming the role of prime minister following his father, Hun Sen, who led Cambodia for 38 years before his retirement.

Image credit: BBC