PHNOM PENH: Cambodia’s defence ministry said on Thursday (Apr 2) that a blistering heatwave roiling Southeast Asia played a role in an ammunition explosion that killed 20 soldiers at an army base over the weekend.

The blast – which destroyed an entire truck of munitions and levelled buildings – also wounded several soldiers and at least one child in rural Kampong Speu province on Saturday.

The defence ministry said investigators believed the heatwave played a role in the old weapons detonating.

“The incident of the ammunition explosion on Apr 27, 2024 … was a technical issue because the weapons are old, faulty, and the hot weather,” the ministry said in a statement.

It did not explain the specific issue or how the heat may have contributed to the explosion.

The ministry also rejected suggestions that the blast was down to rebellious soldiers or an act of terrorism.

Deadly munitions accidents are not uncommon in Cambodia, which is awash with ammunition, mines and unexploded ordnance leftover from decades of civil conflict.

Such incidents are exacerbated by frequently lax safety standards.


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